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China makes diplomatic protest to North Korea over nuke test

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China said on Monday it had lodged an official protest with its ally North Korea following Pyongyang’s largest-ever nuclear weapons test.

The massive explosion, which Pyongyang claimed was a miniaturised hydrogen bomb, has put the region on edge and raised questions about how Beijing will respond to its neighbour’s latest provocation.

China “launched stern representations with the person in charge of the DPRK embassy in China”, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing, using an acronym for the North’s official name.

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“China opposes the DPRK in carrying out nuclear missile development and we are committed to denuclearisation of the peninsula. This position is well-known and the DPRK also knows this position perfectly well,” he said.

“The DPRK must be very clear about that, so we hope all parties — especially the DPRK side — could exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating the tensions.”

Geng did not say whether Beijing, which has long been hesitant to put excessive economic pressure on Pyongyang, would support further sanctions on the regime.

North Korea’s announcement of Sunday’s test brought strong condemnation from the international community.

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The blast was five times larger than the last test a year ago, according to South Korea, and could be felt in Chinese cities hundreds of kilometres from the North’s border.

Beijing is Pyongyang’s only significant ally and crucial trade partner. It is considered a critical player in efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its weapons programmes.

It has expressed strong condemnation of Sunday’s test, carried out hours before Chinese president Xi Jinping was set to deliver a major speech at a gathering of BRICS nations in southern China.

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The US has pushed China to take a tougher stance on North Korea.

On Sunday US President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

Geng bristled at the suggestion.

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“What is definitely unacceptable to us is that on the one hand we work so hard to peacefully resolve this issue, and on the other hand our interests are sanctioned and jeopardised,” he said.

“This should not be the case and this is not fair.”


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Netanyahu, Gantz spur supporters on eve of tense Israeli polls

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main opponent Benny Gantz sought to galvanise supporters Monday on the eve of a tense election with the political fate of the country's longest-serving premier in the balance.

The vote on Tuesday will be Israel's second in five months after Netanyahu suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career when he failed to form a coalition after April polls.

Opinion polls indicate another tight race that may see ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu's former right-hand man who is now a rival, play a kingmaker role with his campaign to "make Israel normal again."

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Purdue files for bankruptcy in bid to settle opioid crisis cases

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Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy in a settlement agreement that it hopes will provide more than $10 billion to address the opioid crisis, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

The pharmaceutical giant whose prescription painkiller OxyContin is blamed for much of the US opioid addiction epidemic, is facing thousands of state and federal lawsuits.

The settlement, which is subject to court approval, will contribute Purdue's entire value to a body established for the benefit of the claimants and the American people.

Purdue Chairman Steve Miller said the proposals will "provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis."

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US hints at military response to Saudi attacks as oil prices surge

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Oil prices made their biggest jump since the Gulf War on Monday after President Donald Trump warned that the US was "locked and loaded" to respond to attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure that Washington blamed on Iran.

It is the first time the president has hinted at a potential American military response to the drone attacks, which slashed Saudi oil production by half and led both the kingdom and the United States to announce they may tap their strategic reserves.

"Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!" Trump tweeted.

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