The communist state came to Manila for the ASEAN Regional Forum amid a torrent of global criticism over recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles which prompted the UN Security Council to adopt a fresh set of crippling sanctions Saturday. The sanctions could further choke North Korea's struggling economy by slashing its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the U.S. -drafted resolution "the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against" North Korea.
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.
"We will make the USA pay by a thousand-fold for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country", the statement said.
Southeast Asian countries are "not happy" with North Korea's missile tests, Cambodia's foreign minister said on Wednesday, calling them a threat to regional security.
The US fears North Korea may one day use its missiles to deliver a nuclear payload to its west coast.
Joel Wit, director of 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, said he did not think North Korea would agree to a suspension of missile tests unilaterally as a precondition to talks without, for example, a suspension of large-scale military exercises held regularly by the United States and South Korea, which it has denounced as a prelude for invasion.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the chairman of a Manila ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum showed "grave concern" over recent developments related to North Korea, including its firing of intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.
The sanctions ban the import of North Korean raw materials such as coal, iron, seafood and lead and block any new joint ventures with the North. The North Korean was spotted at the gala smiling and toasting with the other foreign ministers.
Even with new United Nations sanctions in place meant to drive Pyongyang back to the table, conditions still aren't ripe for talks, USA diplomats said. He also said any dialogue would deal with how North Korea can "feel secure and prosper economically".
Australia, Japan, and the US also urged ASEAN member states "to maximize pressure on North Korea". He says he told Ri "do not violate the United Nations decision or provoke the worldwide community's goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests".
In a statement to the Manila forum on Monday, Pyongyang said it would never place its nuclear program on the negotiating table as long as the United States maintained a hostile policy against the North.
Yet despite deeming North Korea a top security threat, the young Trump administration has struggled to find a strategy that differs significantly from what the US has tried in the past.
It added that Japan and South Korea "kowtowed blindly" to the U.S.