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

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 13, 2017

Tillerson, who was scheduled to attend a gala dinner Sunday, skipped it. Ri did not.

Speaking at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday, Wang said the new resolution showed China and the global community's opposition to North Korea's continued missile tests, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the offense at a summit as he tries to increase the pressure on, and isolation of, North Korea after the U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions against the country's rogue regime.

Ri did not respond publicly.

"The North Koreans contend that they can not relinquish their nuclear program until the USA ends its hostile policies", she said. Those tests sharply escalated US fears that Pyongyang is a key step closer to mastering the technology needed to strike American soil with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Kim Jong-un's regime rattled Washington in July with two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) tests. It will ban exports of mineral and seafood products worth over $1 billion - a third of the country's total exports a year ago. Tens of thousands of them return hard currency to the increasingly isolated regime.

"We made it clear the launch of the recent intercontinental ballistic rocket was meant to send a warning to the United States", the council said.

North Korea said the sanctions infringed its sovereignty and it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any USA military action.

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea, including banning exports worth over $1bn. That means, in China's mind, no longer allowing the U.S. to station a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system on its soil. Very big financial impact!

A warning to North Korea by foreign ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries is expected to soothe the US government, which the ministers hope will play a stronger role in their region.

Lavrov told reporters that he and Tillerson agreed to preserve a diplomatic channel that Russian Federation had earlier suspended as a reaction to the sanctions, the Associated Press reported.

"However, there is sentiment across ASEAN that for this engagement to be truly productive and beneficial not just to ASEAN but to our region and the world, we need to ensure that there is a mutual openness and communication amongst us", Cayetano said.

Still, he maintained the pressure on North Korea, pressing Thailand on Tuesday for more action against Pyongyang.

Pyongyang is one of Trump administration's top priorities.

Mr Trump later took to social media to hail the vote, thanking Russian Federation and China in a Twitter post for backing the sanctions that either could have halted with their UN veto, adding that he was "very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions".

"He said he's not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States", McMaster said. "At the end of the day, it will take more than sanctions". It was a question driving the hallway chatter at the gathering, but the US shot down that prospect and said Tillerson had no plans to interact with Ri. Yet none achieved that goal, and the reason is always the same, foreign affairs experts say.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster says it is "impossible to overstate the danger" posed by North Korea. "They never have and likely never will".

Philippines Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano clarified that Duterte's warm gesture does not nullify ASEAN's stance on the North Korea issue.

But Mr Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday.

The foreign ministers on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea and also issued a communique that pressed for non-militarization and expressed concerns about China's island-building.

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