Top envoys from China and North Korea held talks yesterday on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Laos as tensions run high on the Korean Peninsula over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho, a former nuclear negotiator for the state, and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) met in the capital, Vientiane.
It is the first time Ri has attended a major diplomatic gathering since his appointment in May.
A phalanx of security guards from both Laos and North Korea guarded the room where the meeting was taking place.
Relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have frayed this year after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and a series of missile launches put the region on edge.
In response to the new tests — the most recent of which was on Tuesday last week — Washington and Seoul announced plans to deploy a US missile defense system in South Korea, sparking fury in Pyongyang and concern in Beijing.
In the face of continued North Korean provocation, the US spearheaded the drafting of a new UN resolution adopted unanimously in March by Security Council members, including China — North Korea’s main diplomatic protector and economic benefactor.
Washington has since urged China to use its leverage over Pyongyang to implement tougher sanctions and push the reclusive state toward bankruptcy, but Beijing is wary of pushing the North too far, fearing a regime collapse that could create a refugee crisis on its border and swing the regional balance of power toward the US.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) stressed the importance of “friendly relations” with the North at a meeting with a top North Korean official.
North Korea formally withdrew in 2009 from six-party talks with South Korea, the US, Russia, China and Japan that were aimed at tackling the nuclear issue.
Beijing wants the talks revived, but Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all insist Pyongyang must first take some tangible step toward denuclearization.
Beijing previously acted as a buffer between Pyongyang and the other five members, using cash to lure North Korea back to the negotiating table.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete