• BRICS leaders ‘strongly deplore’ NKorea blast

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    XIAMEN, China: Leaders of the BRICS grouping of emerging economies said on Monday they “strongly deplore” North Korea’s latest nuclear test and hydrogen-bomb claim, which has overshadowed the five-nation group’s annual summit.

    Their joint statement from the summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen added to world condemnation of North Korea, which announced Sunday it had detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb that it claims can fit on a long-range missile.

    “We strongly deplore the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK,” BRICS leaders said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

    BRICS SUMMIT Brazil’s President Michel Temer, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a group photo during the BRICS Summit at the Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Center in Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian Province on Monday. AFP PHOTO

    BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and summit host China—North Korea’s longtime patron.

    “We express deep concern over the ongoing tension and prolonged nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” said the declaration.

    It added that BRICS collectively believe the issue “should only be settled through peaceful means and direct dialogue of all the parties concerned.”

    The North Korean move dramatically raised the stakes in its standoff with the world and upstaged the BRICS summit, which Chinese President Xi Jinping opened earlier Monday and had hoped would spotlight Beijing’s claims to developing-world leadership.

    The nuclear test was a slap in the face for Beijing, and China’s foreign ministry condemned it hours after it took place. The ministry added on Monday that it had “launched stern representations” with North Korea’s embassy in China.

    The summit includes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Michel Temer of Brazil and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.

    Pyongyang’s actions marked the second time this year that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un timed the use of his banned weapons programs apparently to steal Xi’s thunder on the world stage.

    In May, Pyongyang conducted a missile test that embarrassed Xi just as he was hosting a large international summit on trade.

    Some analysts believe such provocations may be aimed at pressuring China to in turn push Washington to engage directly with Pyongyang.

    The nuclear test and H-bomb claim could throw into sharper relief the divisions over how to deal with Pyongyang.

    US President Donald Trump, who has previously threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea if it endangers America by raising the nuclear stakes, denounced the test as “very hostile and dangerous” and left open the possibility of a military response.Russia and China, however, have pressed for a diplomatic solution.

    AFP

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