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North Korea urges Australia to distance itself from US


North Korea urges Australia to distance itself from US

Image caption Australia says it has received a letter from Kim Jong-un's regime

The Australian government says it has received a document from North Korea urging Canberra to distance itself from the Trump administration.

The note denounces the US president's warning that America would destroy North Korea if forced to defend itself.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said the letter had been sent to other nations.

He said it demonstrated that diplomatic pressure on North Korea was working, despite the document being "basically a rant" consistent with earlier rhetoric.

The one-page letter was sent via North Korea's embassy in Indonesia and attributed to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Pyongyang's Supreme People's Assembly.

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It urges other governments to turn away from the "heinous and reckless moves of the Trump administration", reiterating that the US could be responsible for a "horrible nuclear disaster".

Mr Turnbull said North Korea was responsible for escalating tensions by "threatening to fire nuclear missiles at Japan and South Korea and the United States".

"They have sent [the letter] to a lot of other countries, like a circular letter," Mr Turnbull told local radio station 3AW.

Pressure 'working'

Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described the letter as an "unprecedented" step from North Korea. Mr Turnbull then appeared to downplay its significance, comparing it to other "ranting and complaining about Donald Trump" by the state.

However, both agreed it could be a sign that global pressure on North Korea was yielding success, and expressed hope for further international engagement.

On Saturday, Pyongyang warned Australia would "not be able to avoid a disaster" if it followed America's policies towards Kim Jong-un's regime.

North Korea has defied the international community in recent months by conducting its sixth nuclear test and launching two missiles over Japan.

The US has responded with threats of military force, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insists that Mr Trump is keen to resolve tensions through diplomacy.

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