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US Open to North Korea Talks if Missile Tests Halted

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The American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says North Korea could signal that it is ready for talks by halting its missile tests.

On Monday, Tillerson said, “We’ve not had an extended period of time where they have not taken some type of provocative action by launching ballistic missiles.”

The top U.S. diplomat went on to say that the strongest signal North Korea could send would be to “just stop these missile launches.”

Tillerson spoke in Manilla, the Philippines, where he was taking part in a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

His comments follow a United Nations Security Council vote on Saturday. All members of the council, including China and Russia, voted to place additional sanctions on North Korea for its missile tests on July 4 and 28.

China, a North Korean ally, urged the country to halt its missile and nuclear tests saying the North should not “provoke international society’s goodwill.”

The vote, Tillerson said, showed that the international community finds North Korea’s actions unacceptable. He said he hoped that North Korea would choose a different pathway that would enable talks in the future.

“When the conditions are right then we can sit and have a dialogue around the future of North Korea so that they feel secure and prosper economically,” he said.

In a statement late Sunday, the White House said President Donald Trump spoke to South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in by telephone. The statement said the two leaders agreed that they would fully carry out the sanctions. They urged “the international community to do so as well.” They also agreed that North Korea “poses a grave threat” to their countries and Japan.

North Korea voices anger over new UN restrictions

On Monday, the North Korean government denounced the new UN restrictions. North Korean state operated media said the North threatened to take revenge on the U.S. Through its media, North Korea also restated its position that sanctions will not force it to negotiate over its nuclear program. The country also threatened to take an “action of justice” although it did not say what that would be.

The sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council aim to cut about $1 billion from North Korea’s $3 billion in yearly export income.

The UN Security Council resolution bars North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also bans nations from increasing the number of North Korean workers that they permit in their respective countries. The resolution says the move is to punish North Korea for using its economic gains to develop its weapons programs.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, right, votes during a Security Council meeting on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, right, votes during a Security Council meeting on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said the resolution was the “single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against” North Korea. And the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Susan Thornton noted the importance of China continuing to carry out the sanctions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the ASEAN meeting in Manila.

Chinese foreign minister Wang said that he advised North Korea to seek a “double suspension” plan to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula. Such a plan calls for North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a suspension of joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.

However, Thornton said the U.S. is not considering ending its training exercises with South Korea.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Chris Hannas and Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional material from AP. Hai Do was the editor.

Words in This Story

Provocative –adj. causing thought, argument or dispute

Unanimously –adv. agreed to by everyone

Sanctions –n. actions meant to force a country or group to obey international laws usually by limiting trade

Dialogue –n. talks or discussions between groups

Prosper –v. to be successful

Level –v. to direct at or against a person or group

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