BRICS foreign ministers call for diplomacy to tackle Korean tensions

BEIJING (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from BRICS nations called for the use of “preventative diplomacy” to tackle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, according to a communique on Monday.

The ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Beijing for a two-day conference that ended on Monday. BRICS leaders will meet in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen in September.

“The foreign ministers support the use of political and diplomatic means to resolve disputes in Libya and on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of preventative diplomacy built on common consensus,” the communique said, according to a version posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.

The document also condemned unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions that violate international law or internationally accepted norms.

Addressing the ministers after the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that BRICS cooperation was entering a “golden decade”.

“At present the international situation has complexities and also factors of instability and it is right for the BRICS to speak their voice,” he said.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped weapon capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. The United States has called for greater action from China to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its weapons programmes.

China has said repeatedly that it adheres to United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea but does not support unilateral sanctions, instead calling for restraint and diplomacy.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday in talks that the United States says will focus on curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Last week, Tillerson said Washington was considering imposing “secondary sanctions” on foreign firms doing business with North Korea and had been in discussions with Beijing about the activities of entities inside China.

Libya fell into turmoil following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and now an array of armed groups and competing governments are vying for control.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd: Editing by Neil Fullick)

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