Friday, 20 July, 2018

Chinese tourists flock to North Korea, despite missile crisis

Melinda Barton | 12 August, 2017, 22:37

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering came a day after the United Nations imposed tough new sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs and less than a week after Tillerson vowed that the us has no intention of overthrowing the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un.

The new Security Council resolution, UNSCR 2371, tightens existing sanctions by imposing a full ban North Korea's export of coal, iron, seafood and other items to other countries; expands the list of individuals and entities subject to an asset freeze; and prohibits countries from increasing the number of North Korean laborers they employ - laborers whose earnings, the USA says, boost revenues for the regime's illicit activities.

The White House later issued a statement saying the two leaders were "committed" to the sanctions and urged other nations to follow suit to combat the "grave and growing direct threat" North Korea poses to the "United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world".

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho struck a defiant tone Monday at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, Asia's largest security forum, saying that the latest round of United Nations sanctions would not stop it from developing its nuclear arsenal.

They eventually agreed to measures that the US says will cost North Korea more than a billion dollars each year. He cited the "very big financial impact" of the sanctions and noted optimistically that both China and Russian Federation had joined in the unanimous vote.

But the Trump administration has said it is open to negotiations once North Korea halts its illegal ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

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. "With his approval ratings falling even with his base, Trump is trapped between the realities of dealing with China and his campaign promises to get tough on trade".

In an interview with MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt that aired Saturday, McMaster said Trump has been "deeply briefed" on the strategy on North Korea.

The possibility of escalation is made even more acute by the lack of any means of official communication across the Demilitarized Zone, though there has been no easing of the barrage of inflammatory comments in the US and the North since new sanctions against North Korea were announced last week. The new measures were a response to five nuclear tests and four long-range missile launches.

"They don't want to see the Korean peninsula unified by the South Korean government, aligned with the United States, because that would be a victory strategically for this long-running competition between China and the United States", he said.

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. He would not go into detail, but said the sanctions vote had been a "good outcome".

Tillerson was later expected to see Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and China's Wang Yi - both key players in the North Korean nuclear standoff.

Wang also pressed for a restart of six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. It also limits the number of North Koreans permitted to work overseas, and bars countries from entering into new joint ventures with North Korea or investing in current ones.

North Korea has been increasingly sensitive to the exercises lately because they reportedly include training for "decapitation strikes" to kill Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants. There was no official discussion or talks between the two ministers at the time. He says the North is "ready to teach the USA a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force".

China urged restraint from the US and South Korea as well, calling on all sides to negotiate. These block North Korean sales of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood.

But Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday. But Wang also called on the United States to dial back the tension.