USA eyes new sanctions on China firms over N. Korea

Alain Brian
Juillet 17, 2017

China is nervous about a nuclear armed North Korea.

Seoul's proposal for two sets of talks indicates President Moon Jae-in is pushing to improve ties with Pyongyang despite the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile this month. The United States slapped an initial round of sanctions on Chinese firms who help prop up Pyongyang in late June - a departure from a traditionally cautious approach to ratcheting up pressure on North Korea's main source of support.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Chinese exports of iron to North Korea for civilian purposes do not relate to the sanctions targeting Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, and China will continue implementing the resolutions "in an all-out manner". But it is especially anxious about the collapse of the regime with which it shares a border, and fears both an influx of millions of North Korean refugees and the possibility of a unified Korea with US troops again at the Yalu River. The last such talks were held in December 2015. The aim would be to end "all acts of hostility" around the inter-Korean Military Demarcation Line, according to a Defense Ministry statement cited by the Yonhap News Agency. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.

South Korea on Monday offered military and Red Cross talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to ease military tensions along the inter-Korean border and resume humanitarian exchange between peoples of the two sides.

Seoul's acting Red Cross chief Kim Sun Hyang said it wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

Earlier this month, Mr Moon reiterated he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if conditions are met.

In the proposal for talks, South Korea did not elaborate on the meaning of hostile military activities, which varies between the two Koreas.

BEIJING (AP) - China defended Thursday its purchase of iron ore from North Korea following criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump and said it is "strictly and earnestly" complying with United Nations sanctions.

Moon has suggested hostile military activities be halted at the inter-Korean border on July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. Since no truce was agreed, the two sides remain technically at war.

Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South previous year.

In an act to rein in the North, the United States is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior US officials said last week.

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