Diplomats Push North Korea to Start Talks in Wake of Sanctions

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Diplomats in Asia renewed efforts to get North Korea to resume dialogue over its nuclear weapons program after the United Nations Security Council slapped Kim Jong Un’s regime with the most severe sanctions yet.
  South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha briefly spoke with North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho on Sunday at a regional security meeting in the Philippines, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Kang urged Ri to respond as soon as possible to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s offer to resume talks between the two countries, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified foreign ministry official from Seoul.
  Ri, who previously said he wouldn’t speak with Kang, said the offer “lacks sincerity,” according to the unnamed official.
South Korea’s foreign ministry didn’t immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.
The brief conversation came as the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea that would ban exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood.
The sanctions followed Pyongyang’s test of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month that could target the U.
“It’s a positive but very small step, and can at least help the two Koreas exchange some views on the current state of affairs,” Kim Jin-ho, a professor of political science at Dankook University in South Korea, said of the meeting between foreign ministers.
“North Korea would use the talk as a bargaining chip with the U.
, as their goal is to have dialogue with Washington, not Seoul.
” In a phone call on Monday, Moon told his U.
counterpart Donald Trump that North Korean issues must be resolved peacefully and diplomatically, and countries needed to show Pyongyang that the door to dialogue was open if North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons and missile programs, according to a Moon spokesman.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is attending the same security forum in Manila, said Monday that the best signal North Korea could give that it’s ready for talks with the U.
was to halt missile launches, the Associated Press reported.
“We’re not going to give someone a specific number of days or weeks,” Tillerson said.
“This is really about the spirit of these talks.
” Joint discussions between six nations -- China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the U.
-- collapsed in 2009.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Manila that Beijing wanted North and South Korea to repair their relationship and praised what he described as Moon’s “positive” overtures.
He noted that that North Korea has ruled out Moon’s suggestions for renewed military and humanitarian exchanges exchanges.
Trump said on Twitter after his phone conversation with Moon that his South Korean counterpart was pleased with the UN move.
“Just completed call with President Moon of South Korea,” Trump said.
“Very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions.
” Moon, who took office in May, has advocated engaging Pyongyang with dialogue and offered to hold rare military talks with the North to ease tensions after Kim’s first successful ICBM test July 4.
— With assistance by Chelsea Mes.

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