US, South Korea laud new UN sanctions on North Korea

The United States, South Korea and China have welcomed tough new UN sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday praised the approval of new UN sanctions agreed a day earlier, calling the move a “very good outcome.”

The Security Council unanimously adopted the US-led resolution, which bans mineral and seafood exports worth more than $1bn after the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha echoed Tillerson’s praise for the approved sanctions, saying it was a “very, very good outcome.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the sanctions were the right response, but repeated a call for dialogue.

The two diplomats are meeting in Manila, the Philippine capital, as foreign ministers from across Asia gathered Sunday for a regional ASEAN summit.

Tillerson said he and his South Korean counterpart plan to discuss the sanctions during their meeting, along with next steps to pressure the North.

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Washington wants eventually to talk to North Korea, Tiller has said, but thinks such discussions would be futile if Pyongyang intends on maintaining its nuclear weapons.

The US secretary of state is also due to meet with diplomats from China and other countries central to the North Korea debate.

China urges ‘calm’

Meanwhile, Wang held bilateral talks with North Korea’s top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, on the sidelines of the ongoing Manila summit.

“We had an intensive conversation, China urges North Korea to remain calm in dealing with the recent decision given by the UN Security Council,” the Chinese minister said, adding he urged the North against violating the UN decision.

“We would like to urge other parties, such as the US and South Korea, to stop increasing tensions. The Korean Peninsula’s situation has reached a critical point. In the meantime, it’s also a turning point for resuming negotiations,” he said. “At this critical moment, we urge every party to remain calm, to take a decision that helps to reduce tensions, resume negotiations and secure regional peace development.”

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When asked by a journalist about the North’s reaction, Wang said: “I think you have already anticipated North Korea’s reaction.”

China’s vote on new UN sanctions helped clear the way for the 15-0 vote on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump on Saturday touted the new UN measures, saying they will have a “very big financial impact.”

He wrote on Twitter: “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!”

A few hours later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump commended the Security Council for its action and appreciated the cooperation of China and Russia in passing the resolution.

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