8 Apr 2013

Hague urges calm over Nth Korea crisis

3:48 pm on 8 April 2013

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for calm over the North Korean crisis.

Despite the "paranoid rhetoric" from Pyongyang, it was important to remain "firm and united," he said, warning of the dangers of a "miscalculation" by North Korea.

North Korea has made a series of direct threats against the United States and South Korea.

Since being sanctioned by the UN in March for carrying out another nuclear test, Pyongyang has threatened nuclear strikes on the United States, formally declared war on the South and pledged to reopen a nuclear reactor in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hague said:

"We have to be concerned about the danger of miscalculation by the North Korean regime".

He said North Korean leaders were making "the wrong choice" between isolation and engagement with the international community, and warned "they will end up leading a broken, friendless country".

But he said there had not been in recent weeks the visible redeployment of ground forces consistent with an invasion plan, nor "a change in what is happening in North Korean society".

On Friday, North Korea warned it would not be able to guarantee the safety of foreign embassy staff in the event of a war.

Mr Hague's comments followed the postponement of a ballistic missile test by the United States.

And South Korea announced on Sunday that General Jung Seung-jo was postponing a trip to Washington, where he was due to meet his US counterpart, because of the rising tensions.

North Korea has reportedly moved at least one missile to its east coast. It has threatened to strike the Pacific island of Guam, where the US has a military base.

President Xi Jinping of China said on Sunday no country could be allowed to throw the region "into chaos for selfish gains".

Former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said Mr Xi's comments are unprecedented.

The BBC reports China is North Korea's only ally and major trading partner, but it is increasingly frustrated with North Korea's bellicosity.