In what might be a last-ditch effort at reaching a diplomatic solution with an increasingly volatile North Korea, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to pass a new round of sanctions on North Korea on Saturday, in hopes of getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.
South Korea and Japan need to communicate more often in the face of missile and nuclear program of Pyongyang, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said. The sanctions include a ban on coal and other exports totaling more than $1 billion.
In a separate statement to reporters in Manila, North Korea called President Donald Trump's "America First" policy unsafe and said its nuclear program was necessary to avoid a US invasion similar to those in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
The US-drafted proposal passed the Security Council 15-0, securing support from North Korean allies China and Russian Federation.
Concerns were heightened late last month when tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile indicated Pyongyang may be within a year or two of obtaining the technology to reach the US with nuclear missiles.
Last week, Mr Tillerson said North Korea needed to cease both its missile launches and nuclear weapons tests for talks to begin.
Washington has dismissed a Chinese proposal created to pique Pyongyang's interest: a suspension of American military exercises with South Korea if the North freezes its weapons development. "We must be tough & decisive!" he wrote.
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According to South Korean statistics, China accounts for more than 90 percent of trade with North Korea - trade which increased this year by 10 percent.
For now, it seems the U.S.is content to simply wait and try to choke North Korea economically: "Reuters" quoted a senior Trump official saying the White House had nothing to say on a so-called secondary sanctions for Chinese firms.
A North Korean "moratorium" on missile launches is one element of a Chinese-Russian proposal for a "double freeze" to pave the way for a resumption of talks on the denuclearization of the peninsula.
Calling the two countries "close neighbors", Wang told Ri to look at the latest UNSC resolution "in a coolheaded manner" and warned against additional missile provocations, Chinese state media reported.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a door open for dialogue with North Korea on Monday, saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted a series of recent missile test launches. Furthermore, they ban any new joint business ventures with the North Korean regime, as well as fresh investment into such existing ventures.
Last year, then South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se had a brief meeting with Ri on the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings in Laos.
At the ASEAN meeting, Tillerson also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines, their first encounter since new USA sanctions on Russia were approved overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law grudgingly by Trump.
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In a phone call on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Trump that North Korean issues must be resolved peacefully and diplomatically.
Wang Yi described talks with North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho as "very thorough" and advised him to calmly assess the United Nations resolutions and not carry out further nuclear tests that would only stoke tensions.
Countries worldwide are responding, cutting back on North Korean guest worker programs, flights and diplomatic missions, United States officials say.
But Pak expressed skepticism toward a potential meeting between the two ministers, while Ri continued to evade repeated questions from the press. He says the North is "ready to teach the USA a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force".
In a draft seen Sunday by The Korea Herald, the ministers displayed "grave concern" over Pyongyang's ICBM tests which resulted in an "escalation of tensions" in the region.
USA officials have been adamant there will be no direct meetings with North Koreans in Manila, even among lower-level officials.
For Tillerson's interlocutors worldwide, this is beginning to be a familiar experience: When the top United States diplomat meets with counterparts, many are finding that he's arriving prepared with information on their countries' connections to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and suggestions on how they can reduce them.
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