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China, Russia dispatch ships to shadow Trump's 'armada'

China, Russia dispatch ships to shadow Trumps armada
China and Russia have dispatched spy vessels to shadow a US aircraft carrier group heading to North Korean waters, Japanese media said, amid rising tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Beijing sought Russian help in averting a crisis over North Korea last week, as concerns grow in China that Donald Trump is seeking to confront North Korea over its weapon's program.

The US president sent a navy group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the region, in what is being seen as a signal to Pyongyang.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, citing "multiple sources of the Japanese government", said China and Russia had "dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson".

The ships are "strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area," Japan's largest daily newspaper said, according to its English language sister publication, The Japan News.

It comes amid reports that tour companies in China have stopped arranging tour groups to North Korea, which had previously been a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

Media outlet thepaper.cn said several agencies had ceased organising package tours, including travel website Lumama and Ctrip – China's biggest tour agency – which stopped group trips to North Korea at the end of 2016. Ctrip told the Shanghai-based website that it did not know when it would resume trips to North Korea. However, travel agencies told thepaper.cn that there had not been a notice from authorities forcing them to cancel trips to the reclusive state. China said on Wednesday that it was willing to work with "all parties" to achieve denuclearisation and stability on the Korean Peninsula, hours after US Vice- President Mike Pence warned North Korea against pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

"We are willing to work with all parties concerned to achieve denuclearisation and safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Lu Kang told a daily press briefing while responding to Pence's comments in Seoul.

Lu said the situation in the Korean Peninsula was highly sensitive, complicated and high risk and all sides should avoid taking provocative actions that add fuel to fire. Asked about US National Security Adviser H R McMaster's comments that North Korea should stop destabilising behaviour and stop developing nuclear weapons, Lu said "We have taken note of the remarks." He said seeking a peaceful solution to the Korean Peninsula issue was a right step and meets interests of all related parties. Dialogue and consultation is the only way to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue, Lu said, reaffirming China's stance. China has put forward a "dual-track approach" and a "suspension for suspension" proposal to ease tensions on the peninsula.

Pence visited the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that "the era of strategic patience is over."
Agencies

Agencies

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