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Philippines says sanctions strengthen Kim as Chinese, SK defence chiefs meet
by Staff Writers
Clark, Philippines (AFP) Oct 24, 2017

Chinese, SKorean defence chiefs meet: Yonhap
Clark, Philippines (AFP) Oct 24, 2017 - The defence chiefs of China and South Korea held their first talks in nearly two years on Tuesday, meeting at a security forum in the Philippines, Yonhap news agency reported.

The talks come at a time of bilateral tensions, with China opposed to South Korea's deployment of a US anti-missile system, but the two nations are also looking to help defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Neither side immediately released details about the reported meeting between South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-Moo and his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan, on the sidelines of the forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

But Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, said it lasted for about half an hour, and raised the prospect of the two nations looking to mend relations following Seoul's deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

Seoul insists it needs THAAD to guard against North Korea's missile threats, but China sees it as a threat to its own security.

South Korea announced last month it would deploy more of the THAAD systems after the North's sixth nuclear test and a series of missile launches that sparked global alarm.

Two launchers are already operational and since late last year China -- the South's top trading partner -- has taken a series of measures against South Korean businesses, seen by Seoul as unofficial economic retaliation.

International sanctions on North Korea are not working and serve only to strengthen the regime of Kim Jong-Un, the Philippine defence minister said on Tuesday.

The United States, which has a longstanding defence pact with the Philippines, has led a drive at the UN Security Council to impose tough sanctions against the North for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The threat from Pyongyang's programme was a major topic at a two-day meeting of Southeast Asian defence chiefs and their partners hosted by the Philippines.

"Sanctions (are) not working but still strengthening the hand of Mr Kim Jong-Un," Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters, as he gave his own assessment on the issue after leading the meetings.

"It feeds on his fears of being invaded also and so he rallies his people to fight against invaders, to 'support me'. Instead of weakening him, it is strengthening his hold on his people."

The North has for decades been developing atomic weapons and the missiles to deliver them and says it needs them to counter a US nuclear threat.

After a flurry of missile launches by the North and its sixth nuclear test last month, the UN imposed fresh sanctions that included bans or restrictions on the export of coal, iron ore and seafood by Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump has also engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim, trading personal insults and threatening to "totally destroy" his country if it threatens the United States.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis and his counterparts from South Korea and Japan vowed to step up diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang, saying its weapons programmes pose "an unprecedented and grave threat" to the region.

Mattis met the ministers on Monday as part of an Asian trip that will see him visiting Seoul for annual defence talks -- ahead of a visit to Asia by Trump.

North Korea was "slowly being isolated" but major powers should rethink their approach, said Lorenzana.

"I think some of the major players in that area -- the US, China and Russia -- will have to come up with another approach to reach out to North Korea," he said.

Abe aims at N. Korea after storming to 'super-majority' vote win
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 23, 2017
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Monday to work with the US, China and Russia to contain North Korea's nuclear threat with "strong, resolute diplomacy", as he "humbly" accepted his landslide victory in a snap election. Fresh from clinching a two-thirds "super-majority" that enables the nationalist premier to realise his dream of revising Japan's pacifist constitution, Abe vowed t ... read more

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