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China trading more with North Korea but buying less coal
17 July 2017, 04:31 | Ross Houston
The DMZ dividing the Korean peninsula is one of the most heavily fortified places in the world. AFP
The offer comes after the North claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, and said it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile.
South Korea has offered to talk with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s.
That the White House would consider a second round of sanctions so soon after the first indicates that the Trump administration is willing to back up its tough rhetoric on North Korea.
The proposal came roughly a week after Moon said the need for dialogue with North Korea was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
The South Korean Red Cross suggested talks be held on August 1, with possible reunions over the Korean thanksgiving Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.
The ministry wants Pyongyang to restore its military communication line with a view to meeting Friday, leaving flexibility for the agenda and level of officials who would lead the talks.
The dialogue was aimed at stopping all hostile acts that escalate military tensions near the military demarcation line (MDL) dividing the two Koreas, the vice minister said in a statement.
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But coal imports slumped by 75%, suggesting Beijing is gradually choking off North Korea's biggest source of foreign currency. Earlier this month, Mr Moon reiterated he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if conditions are met.
The Oct. 4 declaration was the outcome of the inter-Korean summit that was held in Pyongyang in 2007 between then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and then DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader Kim Jong Un.
The new data reflects China's attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act between the US and North Korea, where it wants to prevent the regime collapsing because it worries about what that would mean for regional stability.
Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South previous year after leaving a restaurant run by the North in China.
US President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet this month that China-North Korea trade in the first quarter "grew nearly 40 percent".
North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group made a decision to defect of its own free will. Since then, no dialogue has been held as the DPRK conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in January and September a year ago and carried out a number of ballistic missile test-launches.
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior US officials said.
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