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Philippine capital Manila hosts high-level talks on North Korea

Foreign ministers of North and South Korea have briefly met on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Philippines amid international pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear and missile programs.
The South’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shook hands with her Northern counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, ahead of an ASEAN Regional Forum dinner in Manila on Sunday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.
According to the report, Kang urged Ri to accept Seoul’s offer of talks aimed at lowering tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula.
Ri, however, said Seoul’s proposal to improve ties with the North “lacked sincerity,” the report added.
“Given the current situation in which the South collaborates with the US to heap pressure on the North, such proposals lacked sincerity,” an unnamed official quoted Ri as saying.
Seoul put forward the initiative for talks with Pyongyang last month, but the North kept silent on the offer.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who also met with Ri in Manila on Sunday, reiterated the need to resolve the Korean crisis through diplomacy, saying his country supports initiatives put forward by South Korea to resolve the issue.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho (L) during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional security forum in Manila on August 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Wang said his North Korean opposite number had “not entirely rejected the positive proposals raised by the South.”
“For China as a neighbor of both North Korea and South Korea, we of course hope the North and South can improve relations. We also support the positive initiatives put forward by the new South Korean government. We are ready to see the North and South resume contact soon," Wang said.
The Manila meetings came a day after the UN Security Council passed a resolution slapping sweeping sanctions on the North over its first test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which sparked global condemnations.
Council members, including Pyongyang’s traditional allies, Beijing and Moscow, voted 15-0 for a partial ban on exports aimed at slashing Pyongyang’s $3 billion foreign revenue by a third, $1 billion.
The sanctions block all exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, as well as fish and seafood from the country over its recent missile tests. They also block North Korea from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad, and prevents new joint ventures with Pyongyang or increasing investments in current ventures.
US President Donald Trump hailed the vote, thanking Russia and China for backing a measure that either could have halted with their veto power.
Russia urges ‘six-party talks’
Separately, Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was also in Manila, held talks with his American and North Korean counterparts on the same issue.
He explained that Russia and China shared a common position on the issue, supporting six-way talks between South Korea, North Korea, the US, China, Russia, and Japan.
“There is a strong commitment to resume six-party talks in search of political settlement,” Lavrov said.
World is united against North Korea
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Manila on Monday that talks with North Korea would start when conditions were right.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (photo by AFP)
Tillerson said the latest UN resolution sends a strong message, and that North Korea needs to understand what the world expects of it.
He also said Russia and China’s support for new anti-Pyongyang sanctions shows the international community expects them to help North Korea accept the realities.
The top US diplomat said the execution and implementation of the new UN sanctions would be carefully watched.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who supports diplomacy vis-à-vis North Korea, held a phone conversation with the US president.
“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,” the White House said of the call.
They “committed to fully implement all relevant resolutions and to urge the international community to do so as well.”
North Korea is under international pressure over its missile and nuclear development programs.
Pyongyang says it needs to continue developing its missile force as a deterrent against the US and its regional allies’ aggression and expansionism.
Since early July, the North has tested two ICBMs, which it says can hit the US mainland.

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