Mon, Aug 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

US, China press N Korea after UN vote

TOUGH TALK:H.R. McMaster said Donald Trump was reviewing plans for a ‘preventive war,’ while Rex Tillerson yesterday met with his Russian and S Korean counterparts

AFP, MANILA

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi on Saturday votes during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York City on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its missile program.

Photo: AP

The US and China yesterday piled pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear missile program after the UN Security Council approved tough sanctions which could cost Pyongyang US$1 billion a year.

One day after council members voted unanimously for a partial ban on exports aimed at slashing Pyongyang’s foreign revenue by a third, top diplomats from the key powers in the dispute met in Manila.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was encouraged by the vote, but officials said that Washington would closely watch China — North Korea’s biggest trade partner — to ensure sanctions are enforced.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) met his North Korean counterpart Ri Hong-yo before a major regional security forum being hosted by ASEAN.

He urged the North to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

“It will help the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to make the right and smart decision,” Wang told reporters, speaking through a translator, after talks with Ri — referring to the sanctions and to Ri’s presence in Manila.

Pyongyang’s top envoy has so far avoided the media in Manila.

However, in a characteristically fiery editorial before the latest sanctions were approved, the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned against US aggression.

“The day the US dares tease our nation with a nuclear rod and sanctions, the mainland US will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire,” it said.

Tillerson also met Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov yesterday and was to see Wang later.

“It was a good outcome,” Tillerson said of the UN vote, before he met with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha.

Senior US envoy Susan Thornton said Washington was “still going to be watchful” on the implementation of sanctions, cautioning that previous votes had been followed by China “slipping back.”

However, she added that China’s support for the UN resolution “shows that they realize that this is a huge problem that they need to take on.”

The urgency of the situation was underlined by US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who told MSNBC news that the US leader was reviewing plans for a “preventive war.”

“He said he’s not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States,” McMaster said. “It’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So of course we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option.”

Saturday’s UN resolution banned exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore as well as fish and seafood by the cash-starved state. If fully implemented it would strip North Korea of a third of its export earnings — estimated to total US$3 billion per year despite successive rounds of sanctions since the North’s first nuclear test in 2006.

The resolution also prevents North Korea from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad.

It prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korea, bans new investment in current joint companies and adds nine North Korean officials and four entities, including the North’s main foreign-exchange bank to the UN sanctions blacklist.

Trump hailed the vote — saying in a tweet that the sanctions will have “very big financial impact!” — and thanked Russia and China for backing a measure that either could have halted with their UN veto.

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