China urges North Korea to halt missile tests

Tillerson meets with Russia's Lavrov at forum in Manila.
By Allen Cone  |  Updated Aug. 6, 2017 at 9:29 PM
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Aug. 6 (UPI) -- China's foreign minister told his North Korean counterpart in a meeting Sunday to stop carrying out intercontinental missile tests.

In Manila, Philippines, Wang Yi said he urged Ri Yong-ho not to provoke the international community with more tests, including nuclear ones. In July, Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles, claiming it now had the ability to hit the United States.

The two diplomats are among 27 nations gathered for a forum conducted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. That included U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who also met with Wang, and his counterparts in South Korea and Russia.

The meeting between the two Asian nations was hours after the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed to new sanctions that includes banning North Korean exports and limiting investments in the country. The 15 Security Council members want to cut North Korean exports by about $1 billion a year.

China, the only international ally of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, voted in favor of the resolution.

"The goal is to effectively block the DPRK's nuclear development process," Wang told reporters in Manila. "Sanctions are needed but not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and to seek a final solution."

Wang did not say how Ri responded.

The Chinese envoy also urged the United States and South Korea not to increase tensions because the situation is in a "critical point."

Tillerson, after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, said the sanctions were a "good outcome."

"The door to dialogue is still open," South Korea said in a statement after the meeting.

Tillerson and Kang said the sanctions aren't intended to hurt the North Korean people, but instead lead to peaceful denuclearization.

"You need deeper sanctions over a longer period of time, like years, before you can see if North Korea changes its behavior," Thomas Byrne, president of the New York-based Korea Society, said to Bloomberg. "The sanctions will have an economic impact but little effect on the strategic intent to develop ballistic missiles."

Tillerson later met with China's Wang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

It was the first high-level meeting of Russia and the United States officials since the U.S. sanctions on Russia and the Kremlin's retaliatory limits on U.S. diplomatic presence in the country.

After the one-hour meeting, only Lavrov spoke to the media.

"We felt the readiness of our U.S. colleagues to continue dialogue," Lavrov said. I think there's no alternative to that.

Tillerson did not attend a gala dinner after the first day of the three-day forum that included North Korea's Ri. Senior Adviser R.C. Hammond told NBC News that Tillerson was preparing for the second day of meetings instead of going to the dinner.

Asian nations, including North Korea, are planning to attend the Regional Forum of security issues Monday.

The 10 foreign ministers of the ASEAN, in a statement, they have "grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula, including the missile tests."

"These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world. In this regard, we strongly urge the DPRK to immediately comply fully with its obligations under all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," the foreign ministers said.

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