A US B-1B bomber yesterday joined large-scale US-South Korean military exercises that North Korea has denounced as pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war, as tension mounts between the North and the United States.
The bomber flew from the Pacific US-administered territory of Guam and joined US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in the annual exercises.
The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, as part of a weapons programme that it has conducted in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation.
Asked about the bomber's flight, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing: "We hope relevant parties can maintain restraint and not do anything to add tensions on the Korean peninsula."
North Korea's official KCNA state news agency said at the weekend that US President Donald Trump's administration was "begging for nuclear war" by staging the drills.
It also labelled Trump, who has threatened to destroy North Korea if the United States is threatened, "insane".
The US-South Korea drills coincide with a rare visit to the isolated North by UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk met Feltman yesterday in Pyongyang, and discussed bilateral cooperation and other issues of mutual interest.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit China next Wednesday for a summit with his counterpart Xi Jinping, Seoul's Blue House said. North Korea's increasing nuclear and missile capability would top the agenda, it said.