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China urges dialogue with North Korea, raps unilateral sanctions at UN

Ambassador holds press conference at start of Chinese presidency of Security Council

UNITED NATIONS -- Countries with a stake in resolving the North Korean nuclear standoff "cannot afford to wait" to engage in dialogue and should heed Chinese proposals for a compromise, Ambassador Liu Jieyi told a news conference Monday marking the start of China's presidency of the Security Council for July.

"We have never stopped working on various parties so that dialogue and negotiations can take place," the U.N. envoy said of Chinese efforts to bring all sides to the table.

Warning of "disastrous" consequences of increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Liu called again for relevant countries to consider the Chinese "suspension for suspension" proposal, which would impose a freeze on Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile tests in exchange for suspending U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises as a compromise to bring the parties closer to talks.

Liu further expressed hope that "there will be more political will from the relevant sides to conduct negotiations on the issue of denuclearization and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."

Though the U.S., North and South Korea have, for the most part, rebuffed the terms of the Chinese proposal, just weeks ago a North Korean diplomat to India publicly suggested the possibility of temporarily halting proscribed weapons testing in line with China' recommendation.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has also expressed a wish for dialogue, despite agreeing to continue to apply sanctions and additional pressure on the North.

The U.S., on the other hand, has said dialogue is possible only when certain conditions are met, and President Donald Trump is said to be growing increasingly dissatisfied with China -- North Korea's main ally and trading partner -- for failing to apply its own pressure on Pyongyang.

Last week, the U.S. sanctioned two Chinese individuals and a shipping company it accused of links to North Korea's forbidden weapons programs, also accusing a Chinese bank of laundering money for the North.

"We have always been opposed to unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the U.N.," Liu said of American measures, arguing instead that sanctions are a collective measure that should be taken only by the Security Council.

In a phone call Sunday, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping "reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula," according to the White House.

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