Proposed mediation by South Korean President Moon Jae-in is backed by China and partly by the US. North Korean and South Korean foreign ministers have their first handshake since Moon took over. The UN resolution supports diplomacy in an attempt to ward off war. Moon and Trump talk by phone.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The foreign ministers of South Korea, United States and Japan took part in a three-way meeting in Manila yesterday to co-ordinate steps to counter North Korea’s nuclear missile threats.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wa met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at a hotel on the sidelines of an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meeting.
The working lunch was held after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions against North Korea. If the resolution is implemented Pyongyang will be deprived of one billion dollars in exports.
The new sanctions are aimed in particular at North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood. Overall, North Korean export revenues are worth US$ three billion a year.
China backed the new sanctions, but Rex Tillerson stated the US wants to closely monitor Beijing, Pyongyang's main ally and trading partner, in order to ensure that sanctions are respected.
The UN resolution “will help the DPRK to make the right and smart decision," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The latter added that China is "waiting" for a quick restart of inter-Korean talks.
Today, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone, stressing the need to exert strong pressure on North Korea to induce Kim Jong-un to "change his behaviour."
"President Moon said he hoped the new resolution will be a chance to induce a change in North Korea's behaviour," presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
For Moon, the goal of stronger sanctions is to bring the North to the negotiating table. The South Korean president also highlighted the need to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner through diplomatic means and close collaboration between South Korea and the United States since the tragedy of war on the Korean peninsula cannot be allowed.
During their 56-minute conversation, Trump expressed interest in Seoul's recent bid to promote inter-Korean dialogue, Park said.
Yesterday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met his North Korean counterpart in a rare face to face encounter. The meeting between the two took place on the sidelines of the Manila summit.
Ms Kang and Ri shook hands during the impromptu occasion. However, a South Korea official told the BBC that Mr Ri had dismissed his counterpart's offer of talks as "insincere".
Still, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who spoke to journalists today, said, "My feeling is that the North did not entirely reject the positive proposals raised by the South." Wang added that China supported Moon Jae-in’s initiatives.