North and South Korea foreign ministers meet: Yonhap

SEOUL — Top diplomats of the two Koreas met on the sidelines of a regional forum in Manila, the South's Yonhap news agency reports today, citing an official from Seoul’s foreign ministry. The South's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha had a brief encounter with her Northern counterpart Ri Yong-Ho ahead of an ASEAN Regional Forum dinner on Sunday, Yonhap said. Kang urged Ri to accept Seoul's offers of military talks to lower tensions on the divided peninsula, and for discussions on a new round of reunions for divided families.

But Ri retorted: "Given the current situation in which the South collaborates with the US to heap pressure on the North, such proposals lacked sincerity," the unnamed official was quoted as saying. The encounter came a day after the UN Security Council passed sweeping sanctions on the North over its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which sparked global alarm.

The growing threat from the nuclear-armed North dominated the annual forum, which came days after the North’s second ICBM test. US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In on Sunday agreed that North Korea "poses a grave and growing direct threat," in a phone call one day after the UN Security Council backed fresh sanctions on the North.

"The two leaders affirmed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world," the White House said of the call, in which the pair welcomed the sweeping sanctions. "The leaders committed to fully implement all relevant resolutions and to urge the international community to do so as well."

In a bid to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programme, Council members voted 15-0 for a partial ban on exports aimed at slashing Pyongyang’s foreign revenue by a third. Trump hailed the vote, thanking Russia and China for backing a measure that either could have halted with their UN veto.

On Sunday, following his call with Moon the US president reiterated on Twitter that he is "very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions." The United States began talks on a resolution with China a month ago, after Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, followed by a second ICBM test on July 28.

But the measure does not provide for cuts to oil deliveries, which would have dealt a serious blow to the North’s economy. China accounts for 90 per cent of trade with North Korea, and Beijing’s attitude to its volatile neighbor will be crucial to the success or failure of the new sanctions regime. — AFP


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