Britain's Hammond urges S. Korea not to rise to North's 'bait'
Britain's top diplomat on Friday urged South Korea to "be bigger" than the North as it renewed propaganda broadcasts through massive loudspeakers at the border in response to Pyongyang's latest nuclear test.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, visiting Japan along with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, repeated condemnation of North Korea's actions but questioned Seoul's decision to blast K-pop and criticism of Kim Jong-Un's regime into its territory.
"North Korea acts in a totally irresponsible and provocative way, and I can entirely understand the pressure that the South Koreans feel to respond," Hammond told reporters on a visit to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, docked at the Yokosuka Naval Base southwest of Tokyo.
"But we have to be bigger than the North Koreans and I would urge South Korea and other like-minded countries in the region to exercise restraint," he added.
"We know that responding in this way is simply rising to the bait that North Korea is presenting to us," he said, referring to Seoul's retaliatory action.
But he said that if South Korea is going to be asked to keep calm, then it is essential that global society come up with proper measures in response.
"Continuing with words is not enough, we have to show we are prepared to take the actions to make the sanctions regime against North Korea effective," he said.
Later in the day, Fallon and Hammond held talks with their Japanese counterparts -- Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defence Minister Gen Nakatani -- and jointly expressed "grave concern" over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile development.
"The ministers strongly condemned the nuclear test conducted by North Korea," a joint statement said, adding that Japan and the UK would work "urgently on further significant measures".
The two sides also voiced concern over rising tensions due to overlapping territorial claims by China and several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
"The ministers... called on all parties to refrain from activities that increase tension and to pursue urgently the settlement of the maritime disputes peacefully in accordance with international law," the statement said.
The Japanese and British officials also confirmed cooperation in areas including defence, trade, civil nuclear energy and cyber security.
Fallon and Hammond, who also met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, earlier visited the Japanese helicopter carrier Izumo -- the country's biggest warship since World War II.
"We are both here to show... that Japan is our most important security partner in Asia," Hammond said aboard the ship.
© 2016 AFP