US

China says NKorea could suspend nukes for halt in US drills

  • FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, U.S. M1A2 SEP Abrams battle tanks prepare to cross the Hantan river during a river crossing operation, part of an annual joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States against a possible attack from North Korea, in Yeoncheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea. China on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 proposed that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

    FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, U.S. M1A2 SEP Abrams battle tanks prepare to cross the Hantan river during a river crossing operation, part of an annual joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States against a possible attack from North Korea, in Yeoncheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea. China on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 proposed that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester holds up a banner during a rally to oppose the plan to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defense system have arrived in South Korea, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said Tuesday, a day after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan. The sing read "Desperately oppose, Deployment THAAD." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    A protester holds up a banner during a rally to oppose the plan to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defense system have arrived in South Korea, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said Tuesday, a day after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan. The sing read "Desperately oppose, Deployment THAAD." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this images made from video released by KRT on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, reacts during the launch of four missiles in an undisclosed location North Korea. On Monday, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in an apparent protest against ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. (KRT via AP Video)

    In this images made from video released by KRT on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, reacts during the launch of four missiles in an undisclosed location North Korea. On Monday, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in an apparent protest against ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. (KRT via AP Video)  (The Associated Press)

China on Wednesday proposed that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi likened escalating tensions between the North and Washington and Seoul to "two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way."

"The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?" Wang told reporters. "Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains.

Wang said China proposes that as a first step to defusing the looming crisis, the North might suspend its nuclear and missile activities if the U.S. and South Korea halted their military exercises.

"This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table," Wang said, describing the approach as trying to address all parties' concerns in a "synchronized and reciprocal" manner.

China has been stepping up pressure on North Korea, its once-close Communist ally, to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Last month, Beijing suspended all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year.

China is North Korea's largest source of trade and aid, and the move deprives the North of an important source of foreign currency. Beijing wants the U.S. in return to restart long-stalled negotiations with North Korea to ease regional tensions.