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Tillerson doubles down as China takes new hard line on North Korea

12 August 2017, 10:34 | Darnell Patrick

On Saturday, three days before President Trump ominously threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen", his administration pulled off a genuine diplomatic success: the unanimous passage of a US -penned resolution in the Security Council that hit North Korea with a heavy slate of new sanctions.

On Saturday, in a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution hitting North Korea with fresh sanctions.

The U.N. penalties aim to cut off roughly $1 billion of North Korea's estimated $3 billion in annual exports, by banning countries from importing its coal, iron, lead and seafood products, and stopping them from letting in more North Korean laborers, who help Kim's government by sending cash home.

But Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday. The North has learned through decades of USA efforts at isolation how to circumvent commercial and financial restrictions, and reluctant powers like China and Russian Federation have often proven half-hearted partners when it comes to policing their ally.

A senior official at Seoul's Foreign Ministry who was present at the meeting said that the secretary emphasized the significance of a thorough enforcement of the sanctions, and a greater security partnership not only between the allies but also together with Japan.

The US will hold the door open to North Korea if it halts a recent series of missile test launches, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The possibility of escalation is made even more acute by the lack of any means of official communication across the Demilitarized Zone, though there has been no easing of the barrage of inflammatory comments in the USA and the North since new sanctions against North Korea were announced last week.

"North Korea's response is expected, because they have their own position", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Manila on Monday night.

Even before the conference was formally under way, numerous 27 member countries were seen raising their voices against Pyongyang especially over the ICBM launches. The ARF is a rare regional security forum to which North Korea sends its foreign minister.

The Trump administration cautiously embraced China's apparent newfound cooperation, while putting it on notice that the US would be watching closely to ensure it didn't ease up on North Korea if and when the world's attention is diverted elsewhere. Last month's pair of groundbreaking tests of long-range ballistic missiles has put the continental United States in range for the first time.

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The State Department did not immediately comment on Mr Yun's diplomacy. "I believe the Bible is very clear about that", he added. The two leaders also reiterated a commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


Tillerson did not meet with North Korea's envoy, Ri Yong Ho. In April, the U.S. sent its Carl Vinson aircraft carrier towards the Korean Peninsula, saying it was taking prudent measures against the North. "We're working this one hard, and a lot of other countries care about it just as much as we do". Sanctions are needed but sanctions are not the final goal.

The State Department has previously ruled out holding any direct talks with North Korea's envoy Ri during Tillerson's stay in Manila.

"They probably understand that they need to sit down and talk to us - they've been trying to talk to us since 1974 - but before they do that, they want to demonstrate the ability to mount a [nuclear] warhead", said Person.

Influential Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in a Wednesday editorial that sanctions would not stop Pyongyang's determination on its weapons' programs.

Ri arrived here early Sunday.

The trip marked Kang's solo debut on the world stage as the country's top diplomat.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has hailed the achievements made during her first ASEAN Regional Forum.

China has suggested the US and South Korea halt joint military exercises in exchange for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile testing.

In a draft seen Sunday by The Korea Herald, the ministers displayed "grave concern" over Pyongyang's ICBM tests which resulted in an "escalation of tensions" in the region.

"But in order to protect the worldwide non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as before, fully and strictly properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution".



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