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Politics

Beijing counsels caution to North Korea, endorses tough UN sanctions

Foreign Minister Wang Yi seeks final crisis resolution at negotiating table

MANILA -- China on Sunday counselled its belligerent ally North Korea to cease long-range missile launches and nuclear testing after endorsing a United Nations' resolution for tougher sanctions on Pyongyang the previous day.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he told Ri Yong-ho, his North Korean counterpart, not to go against the U.N. or strain international goodwill with further launches and tests. The two ministers met in Manila where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, a regional security gathering, convenes on Monday.

Wang left the door open for dialogue, saying the U.N. sanctions should occasion talks on Pyongyang's development of nuclear arms. "The goal is to effectively block the DPRK's nuclear development process," Wang told reporters after the meeting (referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea). "Sanctions are needed but not the ultimate goal," he said. "The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and to seek a final solution."

Wang's remarks came the day after the 15-member U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed further sanctions on North Korea that may cut by one third the isolated communist state's $3 billion in annual exports. This followed North Korea's two successful intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July.

The U.S.-drafted Security Council resolution targets North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood, and prohibits countries from increasing the number of North Korean workers they employ. The U.N. estimates that some 50,000 work abroad, mainly in China and Russia. The resolution bans new joint ventures with North Korea, and any further investment in existing ones. Washington also called for "concerted condemnation" of Pyongyang ahead of this weekend's ASEAN meetings in the Philippines.

Ri did not respond to reporters' questions about the U.N. resolution when he left his hotel in Manila after arriving on Sunday morning. He was on his way to meet with Wang, and is expected to meet Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, on Monday.

Kang Kyung-wha, the South Korean foreign minister, meanwhile met with Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, and welcomed the U.N. resolution which she said would starve North Korea of funding. The U.S. and South Korea concurred that North Korea has upgraded its offensive technology; the two sides discussed ways to stop further provocations and to promote denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Kang was an assistant secretary general at the U.N. before she became foreign minister in June.

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