Putin: Trump administration willing to defuse North Korea tensions

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he believes Donald Trump's administration is willing to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea's latest nuclear test on Sunday rattled its neighbouring countries, prompting the United States to speak about a "military response" and leading South Korea to conduct major military exercises.

Speaking at an economic forum in Russia's eastern port of Vladivostok, Mr Putin said he believes the Trump administration is "willing to resolve the situation".

Mr Putin also reiterated Moscow's opposition to more sanctions against North Korea.

The Russian leader said there are "many reasonable people in the current administration" who are experienced and who have dealt with similar crises.

Mr Putin called on all North Korea's neighbours to show restraint, indicating that the bellicose rhetoric and the military drills are only "playing into their hands".

Meanwhile, dozens of people were injured in clashes between South Korean protesters and police as the US military added more launchers to the high-tech missile-defence system it installed in a southern town to better cope with North Korean threats.

Seoul has hardened its stance against Pyongyang after its weapons tests, including Sunday's detonation of what North Korea said was a thermonuclear weapon built for missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.

Thousands of police officers in riot gear swarmed around 400 protesters who had been occupying a road leading to the site where the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence System (THAAD) is installed in the rural town of Seongju.

Six police officers and 32 other people were injured, none seriously, in the clashes.

Several US military vehicles, including trucks carrying payloads covered in black sheets that appeared to be launchers, had been seen heading toward the site.

A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers capable of firing up to 48 interceptor missiles, but only two have been operational.

South Korea's defence ministry could not immediately confirm when the four launchers added on Thursday will be operationally capable.

Washington and Seoul began deploying THAAD before a conservative South Korean government was ousted in March in a corruption scandal.

The liberal Mr Moon took office in May calling for diplomacy with Pyongyang, but the escalation in weapons tests has been the North's only response.

Mr Moon

Mr Moon temporarily halted the THAAD installation for environmental reviews to ease residents' concerns. But after North Korea's two test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, he allowed more launchers to be set up before the reviews are conducted.

South Korean officials said THAAD will strengthen the country's missile defences, which now rely on Patriot-based systems, and will deter North Korea, which has missiles that can be fired from road-mobile launchers or submarines.

They also say the health rumours that have spurred local concerns about the system's powerful radar component are groundless and no such issues have been reported at other THAAD sites.

KEYWORDS: North Korea, Putin, Trump


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