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North Korea weapons programme: 20 countries to consider tougher sanctions against Pyongyang

17 January 2018

They'll discuss increasing economic pressure on North Korea, how to address the rogue nation's nuclear program and continuing diplomatic efforts, which have had a breakthrough in recent weeks.

"The scope of this, I think, is going to be really limited to reinforcing the UN Security Council's resolutions on the North Korean nuclear issue", says Frank Jannuzi, president and CEO of the Mansfield Foundation, which promotes US-Asian relations, "which means that the main emphasis will be on ensuring solidarity, strict sanctions enforcement".

However, those leaders say what Tillerson described as a "maximum-pressure campaign" against North Korea will continue until Kim Jong Un and his regime agree to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

The participants, whose ranks include countries from around the world, are expected to spend the rest of the day behind closed doors, discussing how best to tighten sanctions against the North and possible avenues for diplomacy.

The Koreas also discussed fielding a joint women's hockey team and having their athletes march under a "unification flag" depicting the Korean Peninsula, instead of their respective national flags, during the opening ceremony for the February 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang, the ministry statement said.

"On Monday the two Koreas agreed that a North Korean orchestra, singers and dancers would come to the South to perform during the games".

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While the arrangements for the 2018 games are being made after all standard deadlines for Olympic participation have elapsed, they're also being welcomed as a sign of easing tensions after months of alarm over North Korea's nuclear program.

"Frankly, I think this view is just too naive".

"I believe that the two tools, tough sanctions and pressure on the one hand and the offer of a different brighter future on the other, have worked hand in hand", she said.

The president, who took office in May previous year, vowed to seek both dialogue and sanctions in handling North Korea. "The concerted efforts of the global community have begun to bear fruit".

"Since this meeting does not have legitimacy or representativeness, China has opposed the meeting from the very beginning", Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a routine press briefing. "The UN Security Council went as far as they were willing to go, with Chinese and Russian support, to allow nations to board ships in port, to inspect them and make sure they're complying with the UN sanctions regime".

Moscow and Beijing were not represented in Vancouver and angrily dismissed the talks.

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The talks were sparked by the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will take place in South Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland during the Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, January 16, 2018.

Even so, they say debate within the US administration over whether to give more active consideration to military options, such as a pre-emptive strike on a North Korean nuclear or missile site, has lost momentum ahead of the Olympics.

Washington suggested that while not invited, Russian Federation and China were generally supportive of the Vancouver meeting, a remark Lavrov flatly rejected as 'an outright lie'.

President Donald Trump spoke with China's President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

The talks last week occurred after the USA agreed to South Korea's request to postpone a large military exercise, which usually involves 30,000 American troops and 200,000 South Koreans, until after the Olympics are held February 9-25.in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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North Korea weapons programme: 20 countries to consider tougher sanctions against Pyongyang