SEOUL, South Korea – The Latest on the North Korea crisis (all times local):
China has reiterated calls for all sides to maintain calm and reduce tensions over the Korean Peninsula.
The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs. China has called on South Korea and the U.S. to suspend large scale military exercises in return for the North halting its programs in order to facilitate talks.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says in a statement that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula "is complex and sensitive."
He says: "The Chinese side hopes all related parties will exercise caution in their words and actions and make greater efforts to alleviate the tense situation and enhance mutual trust, while not traveling the old path of making displays of strength and constantly exacerbating the situation."
An editorial in the Communist Party tabloid Global Times says "Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand."
It adds China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil and the U.S. retaliates, "China will stay neutral."