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NUKEWARS
Tillerson: World united to disarm North Korea
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Aug 7, 2017


North Korea dismisses South's talks offer: Yonhap
Seoul (AFP) Aug 7, 2017 - North Korea dismissed offers of talks from the South during a rare exchange between the two rivals' foreign ministers, Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported Monday after the UN imposed a new round of sanctions on nuclear-armed Pyongyang.

News of the brief encounter on the sidelines of a regional forum in Manila came as the South's President Moon Jae-In urged a "peaceful resolution" to the tensions in a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump.

Even a conventional conflict on the peninsula could could cost a million dead or wounded within months, estimates say.

Moon told Trump the South "cannot let another war to break out" on the peninsula after the 1950-53 Korean War that sealed the division of two Koreas, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

The South's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha shook hands with her Northern counterpart Ri Yong-Ho ahead of an ASEAN Regional Forum dinner on Sunday, Yonhap said.

Kang urged Ri to accept Seoul's offers of military talks to lower tensions on the divided peninsula, and for discussions on a new round of reunions for divided families.

But Ri retorted: "Given the current situation in which the South collaborates with the US to heap pressure on the North, such proposals lacked sincerity," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Kang reiterated again "the South's sincerity" and repeated a call for Pyongyang to come forward for talks, the official said.

It was the first time cabinet-level officials from the two Koreas had met since Moon -- who urges engagement with the North as well as sanctions to bring it to the negotiating table -- took power in May.

The encounter came a day after the UN Security Council passed sweeping sanctions on the North over its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which sparked global alarm.

The growing threat from the nuclear-armed North dominated the annual forum, which came days after the North's second ICBM test.

- 'Growing threat' -

The missile launches have added to tensions on the peninsula with the US leaving open the possibility of military action against Kim Jong-Un's regime.

White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster vowed to "provide all options" on the country in a recent interview with CNN.

But Moon, in a phone conversation with Trump on Monday, urged calm and "peaceful and diplomatic resolution".

The two allies are due later this month to start an annual joint military drill hated by Pyongyang, which habitually slams it as a rehearsal for invasion.

The White House said the two leaders "affirmed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world".

They welcomed the sweeping new sanctions passed by the UN Security Council in a 15-0 vote on Saturday in a bid to step up pressure on Pyongyang over its weapons programmes.

The measures ban exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore as well as fish and seafood from the impoverished state in a move aimed at slashing Pyongyang's foreign revenue by a third.

Trump hailed the vote, thanking Russia and China for backing a measure that either could have halted with their UN veto.

"Just completed call with President Moon of South Korea. Very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions," Trump tweeted.

Pyongyang has not officially responded to the latest UN sanctions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday that a UN Security Council vote to impose sanctions on North Korea showed that world powers were united behind a push for a denuclearised Korean peninsula.

Speaking at a security forum in Manila, Washington's top diplomat said Kim Jong-Un's regime must halt ballistic missile tests if it wanted to talk to the United States about resolving the standoff.

"It's quite clear in terms of there being no daylight between the international community as to the expectation that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of my objectives, which is a denuclearised Korean peninsula," he said.

On Sunday, Tillerson held separate talks in Manila with foreign ministers Wang Yi of China and Sergei Lavrov of Russia, both of whom he said were in support of a tough stance on Pyongyang's arsenal.

While Wang called for a resumption of dialogue with North Korea, Tillerson insisted Kim must first stop the missile tests.

"The best signal that North Korea could send that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches," he said, holding out the prospect of US envoys sitting down with Pyongyang's isolated regime.

But he would not set a timeframe on when this might be possible or how long North Korea might have to refrain from testing more long-rang missiles.

"We'll know it when we see it," he told reporters.

"I'm not going to give someone a specific number of days or weeks. This is really about the spirit of these talks.

"And they can demonstrate that they are ready to sit in the spirit of finding their way forward in these talks by no longer conducting these missile tests."

The UN Security Council on Saturday approved a US-drafted sanctions package against North Korea that could cost it $1 billion a year in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

This was in response to the North conducting two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month that Kim boasted showed he could strike any part of the United States.

US and China pressure North Korea after sanctions vote
Manila (AFP) Aug 6, 2017 - The United States and China piled pressure on North Korea Sunday to abandon its nuclear missile programme after the UN Security Council approved tough sanctions which could cost Pyongyang $1 billion a year.

One day after Council members voted unanimously for a partial ban on exports aimed at slashing Pyongyang's foreign revenue by a third, top diplomats from the key powers in the dispute met in Manila.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was encouraged by the vote, but officials warned that Washington would closely watch China -- North Korea's biggest trade partner -- to ensure sanctions are enforced.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his North Korean counterpart Ri Hong-Yo before a major regional security forum being hosted by the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He urged the North to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

"It will help the DPRK to make the right and smart decision," Wang told reporters, speaking through a translator, after talks with Ri -- referring to the sanctions and to Ri's presence in Manila.

Pyongyang's top envoy has so far avoided the media in Manila.

But in a characteristically fiery editorial before the latest sanctions were approved, the North's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned against US aggression.

"The day the US dares tease our nation with a nuclear rod and sanctions, the mainland US will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire," it said.

Tillerson also met Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and was to see Wang later on Sunday, seeking to intensify Kim Jong-Un's diplomatic isolation and reduce the risk of renewed conflict.

"It was a good outcome," Tillerson said of the UN vote, before a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha.

Senior US envoy Susan Thornton said Washington was "still going to be watchful" on the implementation of sanctions, cautioning that previous votes had been followed by China "slipping back".

But she added China's support for the UN resolution "shows that they realise that this is a huge problem that they need to take on".

- 'Military option' -

The urgency of the situation was underlined by President Donald Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who told MSNBC news that the US leader was reviewing plans for a "preventive war".

"He said he's not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States," McMaster said.

"It's intolerable from the president's perspective. So of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option."

Saturday's UN resolution banned exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore as well as fish and seafood by the cash-starved state.

If fully implemented it would strip North Korea of a third of its export earnings -- estimated to total $3 billion per year despite successive rounds of sanctions since the North's first nuclear test in 2006.

The resolution also prevents North Korea from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad. Their earnings are another source of foreign currency for Kim's regime.

It prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korea, bans new investment in current joint companies and adds nine North Korean officials and four entities including the North's main foreign exchange bank to the UN sanctions blacklist.

- What next? -

Trump hailed the vote -- saying in a tweet that the sanctions will have "very big financial impact!" -- and thanked Russia and China for backing a measure that either could have halted with their UN veto.

The United States began talks on a resolution with China a month ago, after Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, followed by a second ICBM test on July 28.

But the measure does not provide for cuts to oil deliveries, which would have dealt a serious blow to the North's economy.

China accounts for 90 percent of trade with North Korea, and Beijing's attitude to its volatile neighbour will be crucial to the success or failure of the new sanctions regime.

China and Russia had resisted the US push, arguing that dialogue with North Korea was the way to persuade it to halt its military programmes.

Speaking to reporters after the council vote, Washington's ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said "what's next is completely up to North Korea."

US officials have insisted that while Tillerson and Ri will be in the same room during the Manila forum, there would be no direct meeting between the two envoys.

NUKEWARS
China welcomes US assertion not seeking N. Korea regime change
Beijing (AFP) Aug 3, 2017
China on Thursday welcomed comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Washington would not seek regime change in North Korea, after a week of verbal sparring between the two countries over Pyongyang's rogue weapons programme. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said "we attach importance to the remarks", when questioned on the US's latest comments on the North, which has caused intern ... read more

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