Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Picture: REUTERS
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Picture: REUTERS

Singapore/New York — China has expressed confidence that new UN sanctions will be helpful in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table to end its push for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho to react calmly to measures to curb its exports and avoid more provocations when they met on Sunday in Manila, where diplomats from more than 20 countries are attending a security forum.

Wang, who also called for the US and South Korea to reduce tensions, said sanctions “created the conditions to find a breakthrough”. The goal was to block North Korea’s nuclear development. “Sanctions are needed but not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table and to seek a final solution,” he said.

As North Korea’s main ally and biggest trading partner,
China is crucial to putting pressure on leader Kim Jong-un to halt his push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the US mainland. Many analysts see his programme as too advanced for sanctions to make much difference and doubt he will give up his nuclear weapons.

The penalties agreed to by the UN Security Council aim to cut North Korean exports by about $1bn a year. The prohibition against coal, iron, lead and seafood came in response to Pyongyang’s testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles that could target the US.

The sanctions would ban “the opening of new joint ventures or co-operative entities with” North Korea and cap the number of North Koreans working in other countries at current levels. Existing joint ventures would be prevented from expanding
their operations.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said sanctions were not intended to bring North Korea down, but rather to lead to peaceful denuclearisation.

“The door to dialogue is still open,” South Korea said after Tillerson met Kang in Manila.

US President Donald Trump hailed the sanctions on Twitter, noting that China and Russia had both backed the measure.

“The price the North Korean leadership will pay for its continued nuclear and missile development will be the loss of one-third of its exports and hard currency,” said Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN.

“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.”

Bloomberg

 

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