China delivered frank advice to North Korea, its outcast neighbor, on Sunday, telling Pyongyang to make a “smart decision” and stop conducting missile launches and nuclear tests.
The statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came on the heels of a U.N. Security Council decision to impose additional sanctions on North Korea and its exports, and suggested that the American push to further isolate the regime of Kim Jung Un is reaping some dividends. But Wang also called on the United States to dial back the tension.
After meeting with North Korea’s top diplomat during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering here in the Philippine capital, Wang said that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is critical — but that it could be a turning point for negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.
“Do not violate the U.N.’s decision or provoke international society’s goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Wang said after talks with Ri Yong Ho, North Korea’s foreign minister. Wang, however, quickly added, “Of course, we would like to urge other parties like the U.S. and South Korea to stop increasing tensions.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Manila on Saturday night in what State Department officials have said will be a concerted effort to enlist other countries in the campaign to get North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear tests. Concern has mounted that North Korea is developing its missile technology more quickly than expected, after tests last month of missiles that experts said are capable of striking the U.S. mainland, perhaps as far inland as Chicago.
“Certainly we want to resolve this issue through negotiations, and this pressure campaign, the sanctions, it’s all about trying to convince the North Koreans that the fast way forward is to come back to the table and talk,” said Susan Thornton, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
In Washington, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway reveled in the U.N. vote, which took place Saturday. On ABC’s “This Week,” she said: “And then you also just yesterday saw a unanimous rebuke of North Korea. The greatest economic sanctions package ever levied against them, it’ll cost about $1 billion. Even allies in the region like China, Japan, South Korea, all agreeing with the United States that North Korea and its nuclear capabilities must be stopped.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Carol Morello