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North Korea sanctions

China’s foreign minister urges North Korea to remain calm following UN sanctions

Wang Yi also calls for stalled six-party talks to be restarted as situation on Korean Peninsula reaches ‘near-crisis’ point

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 12:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 5:35pm

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told his North Korean counterpart in Manila on Sunday afternoon that Pyongyang should remain calm in the wake of the announcement of the United Nations’ latest sanctions, and warned the rest of the world that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was at a near-crisis point.

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Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, Wang said he’d had an “in-depth exchange” with Ri Yong-ho, China’s official People’s Daily reported.

“China urged the North Korean side to calmly face the new UN Security Council resolution, and not to do anything to violate [it] amid the strong opposition of the international community to [North Korea] launching a missile or [staging a] nuclear test,” he said.

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“Of course, we also urge other parties, especially the US and South Korea, not to further escalate regional tensions,” he said.

“The Korean Peninsula has now reached a critical, near-crisis, point, but at the same time it could also be a turning point [for concerned countries] to make a decision on resuming [the stalled six-party] talks,” Wang said.

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He described the six-party talks as a way to “emphasise the use of diplomatic political means to resolve the peninsula nuclear issue peacefully”.

Reuters reported that both Wang and Ri appeared to be in good spirits at the start of their bilateral talks, held on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Nations’ regional security meeting in the Philippines’ capital.

Ri smiled continuously as the two men shook hands, and Wang put his hand on Ri’s shoulder as they walked into the meeting room, the Reuters report said.

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Earlier on Sunday, Wang said that the Korean Peninsula issue had reached a “very critical juncture” following the UN’s decision to issue the sanctions resolution, which, he said, was necessary to end Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

China played a “responsible and constructive” role in the decision to pass Resolution 2371, he said, describing it at as “a necessary response” to North Korea’s violation of the UN Security Council’s previous resolutions and its repeated missile tests.

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“Sanctions are needed but are not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and seek a final solution to realise the peninsula’s denuclearisation and long-term stability,” Wang said.

“The aim is to efficiently or more efficiently block North Korea’s nuclear missile development,” he said.

According to a statement from China’s foreign ministry, Ri reiterated Pyongyang’s stance on the nuclear issue, saying North Korea would stay in touch with Beijing.

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Susan Thornton, acting US Assistant Secretary of State East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said on the sidelines of the Asean meeting that it was important for all parties to have dialogue to de-escalate the issue, and it was also incumbent on China to ensure that the sanctions on North Korea were fully implemented, Associated Press reported.