Chinese nuclear envoy in Seoul for talks on North Korea

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SEOUL China's top nuclear envoy arrived in Seoul yesterday for talks on the North Korean threat, as a US naval strike group headed for the region in a show of force.

US President Donald Trump, fresh from a missile strike on Syria widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning, asked to be provided with a range of options for eliminating North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

"Presidents before and Mr Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, and that what must happen is the denuclearisation of the peninsula," US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Fox News on Sunday.

Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as North Korea marks major anniversaries this month, including the 105th birthday of its founding leader, which is usually celebrated with a demonstration of military might.

Mr Wu Dawei, China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, was to meet his South Korean counterpart later yesterday to discuss the nuclear issue, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

South Korea's deployment of a US missile defence system loathed by Beijing will also be high on Mr Wu's agenda, Yonhap news agency said.

The talks come shortly after Mr Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit at which he pressed Pyongyang's key ally to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"(We) are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit.

The US Navy strike group Carl Vinson cancelled a trip to Australia, heading towards the Korean Peninsula instead, in a move that will raise tensions in the region.

Seoul and Washington are also conducting joint military drills, an annual exercise seen by North Korea as a practice for war. - AFP

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