China agrees UN action needed against North Korea

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. AFP

BEIJING/VLADIVOSTOK (Reuters) – China agreed yesterday that the United Nations should take more action against North Korea after its latest nuclear test, while also pushing for dialogue to help resolve the standoff.

North Korea, which is pursuing its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of international condemnation, said it would respond to any new UN sanctions and US pressure with “powerful counter measures”, accusing the United States of aiming for war.

The United States wants the UN Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean labourers abroad, and to subject leader Kim Jong-un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Pressure from Washington has ratcheted up since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday. That test, along with a series of missile launches, showed it was close to achieving its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon that could reach the US.

“Given the new developments on the Korean peninsula, China agrees that the UN Security Council should make a further response and take necessary measures,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

“Any new actions taken by the international community against the DPRK should serve the purpose of curbing the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes, while at the same time be conducive to restarting dialogue and consultation,” he said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

US President Donald Trump has urged China to do more to rein in its neighbour, which was typically defiant yesterday.

“We will respond to the barbaric plotting around sanctions and pressure by the United States with powerful counter measures of our own,” North Korea said in a statement by its delegation to an economic forum in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke at the regional meeting in Vladivostok and agreed to try to persuade China and Russia to cut off oil to North Korea as much as possible, according to South Korean officials.

North Korea accused South Korea and Japan of “dirty politics” for what it said was the highjacking a meeting meant to be about economic development.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting he thought the North Korea crisis would not escalate into nuclear war, predicting that common sense would prevail. But he said he believed North Korea’s leadership feared that any freeze of its nuclear programme would be followed by what amounted to “an invitation to the cemetery”.

Amid the rising tension, South Korea installed the four remaining launchers of a US anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system on a former golf course south of its capital, Seoul, early yesterday. Two launchers had already been deployed.

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