In Beijing, Dempsey warns of further North Korean provocations
BEIJING -- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday in Beijing that he is expecting more provocations from North Korea in the coming years and a heightened risk of confrontation.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was speaking to reporters at the U.S. Embassy at the end of his visit here, said North Korea had become progressively more provocative with the rise of Kim Jong Un, who took over after the death of his father in December 2011.
“We are no longer in a period of cyclical provocations -- where a provocation occurs and then there is a period of time when concessions are made.... I think we are in a period of prolonged provocations,” Dempsey said. “I think the risk of miscalculation is higher, and the risk of an escalation is higher.”
Dempsey spent three days in Beijing as part of a series of high-level contacts that touched on issues as diverse as cyber-security, the South and East China seas, and North Korea. He spoke with China’s new president, Xi Jinping, among others.
He told reporters at Wednesday’s briefing hat he was encouraged by China’s evolving attitude toward North Korea, which has been its ally since the partition of the Korean peninsula at the end of World War II.
“I will leave here with the belief that China is as concerned as we are about North Korea’s march toward nuclearization and missile technology,” Dempsey said. “We think there is still time for North Korea’s leader to back away from provocations.”
North Korea conducted a long-range missile test in December and its third nuclear test in February.
Top Chinese Gen. Fang Fenghui told reporters here Monday that he believed North Korea could carry out a fourth nuclear test -- a rare public statement for the Chinese military.
“As far as the Chinese side is concerned, we are willing to work actively with all sides to persuade North Korea to stop nuclear tests and to stop producing nuclear weapons,” Fang said.
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