World

China urges dialogue on N. Korea crisis

Sanctions are right but peaceful means necessary, says Chinese minister

MANILA New United Nations (UN) Security Council sanctions on North Korea are the right response to a series of missile tests, but dialogue is vital to resolve a complex and sensitive issue now at a "critical juncture", China's Foreign Minister said yesterday.

Mr Wang Yi said the UN resolution's call for a return to talks emphasised that diplomatic and peaceful means are necessary to avoid tensions and it is necessary to prevent the crisis from escalating.

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea, which could slash by a third the state's $3 billion (S$4.08 billion) annual export revenue, over its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.

"After the implementation of the resolutions, the Korean peninsula issue enters into a critical juncture," Mr Wang told reporters on the sidelines of a regional foreign ministers' meeting in Manila.

"We call on all sides to take a responsible attitude when making judgements and taking actions... We cannot do one and neglect the other. Sanctions are needed, but sanctions are not the final goal."

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes. The new measures were a response to five nuclear tests and four long-range missile launches.

The latest, US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood and prohibits countries from hiring additional North Korean labourers. It also bans new joint ventures with North Korea.

The North Korea stand-off is expected to dominate tomorrow's Asean Regional Forum, which gathers 27 foreign ministers, including those of Russia, Japan, the US, China and North and South Korea, to discuss security issues.

Mr Wang, who met his North Korean counterpart, Mr Ri Yong Ho, yesterday for bilateral talks, said afterwards: "The Chinese side urged the North Korean side to calmly handle the resolutions the UN Security Council just made towards North Korea and to not do anything un-beneficial towards the international community such as a nuclear test."

He declined to say what Mr Ri had told him.

A top US official said China's support for the sweeping sanctions on North Korea showed that Beijing recognises the gravity of the threat of Pyongyang's nuclear programme and missile tests.

It is important for all parties to have dialogue to de-escalate the issue, and it is also incumbent on China to ensure that the sanctions on North Korea were fully implemented, said Ms Susan Thornton, acting US assistant secretary of state. - REUTERS

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