The Latest: Tillerson says NKorea must halt launches to talk
Aug. 07, 2017
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on developments on efforts to ratchet up pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program. (all times local):
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the best signal North Korea could give that it's prepared for negotiations with the U.S. would be to halt its missile launches.
Tillerson is offering his most specific outline to date of what preconditions the U.S. has for talks with Pyongyang. He says stopping the launches would be the "first and strongest signal."
But Tillerson says it's not as simple as North Korea stopping launches for a few days or weeks. He says he won't give a concrete timeframe but that the U.S. will "know it when we see it."
Tillerson says the U.S. has "other means of communication" open to North Korea if the country wants to express to the U.S. a desire to talk. He's not specifying what those are.
President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are sharing their concerns about North Korea.
The White House says the two leaders spoke by phone Sunday night to discuss the North's recent launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. A statement from the White House says Trump and Moon "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 two leaders also welcomed the U.N. Security Council resolution that unanimously passed 15-0. And the White House says they committed to fully implement all relevant resolutions and to urge the international community to do so as well.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said new U.N. sanctions targeting North Korea are a "very good outcome."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has skipped a dinner in the Philippines for foreign ministers that North Korea's top diplomat attended.
According to Tillerson's public schedule, he was due to attend the dinner at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering in Manila.
Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond says that after a productive first day, Tillerson has taken time to prepare for Day 2.
Representing the United States at the dinner was Susan Thornton — acting assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
Before Tillerson's trip, the U.S. had said he had no plans to interact with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
Ri was spotted at the gala smiling and toasting with the other foreign ministers.
China is providing a welcome boost to the global campaign to pressure North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear tests.
China is the North's economic lifeline. The Trump administration is cautiously embracing China's apparent newfound cooperation.
But Washington says it will be watching closely to ensure that China doesn't ease up on the North — if and when the world's attention is diverted elsewhere.
The United States says it will be watching China closely to ensure it fully and continuously implements new U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
Susan Thornton is the top U.S. diplomat for Asia. She says in the past, there's been a pattern in which China complies with sanctions after a North Korean provocation, but then slips back over time.
Thornton says the U.S. wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen."
Still, Thornton says China's vote for the sanctions is a good step that shows Beijing understands the gravity of the problem.
Thornton says the U.S. isn't currently considering China's proposal to freeze U.S. military exercises with South Korea in exchange for the North halting nuclear development. She says the U.S. rejects any "moral equivalency" implied by that proposal.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he urged his North Korean counterpart to abide by U.N. resolutions and stop provoking "the international community's goodwill" with missile launches and nuclear tests.
Wang spoke to reporters in Manila after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of a regional meeting after the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its escalating nuclear and missile programs.
Wang said the two had an intensive conversation during which China urged North Korea to maintain calm. He says he told Ri "do not violate the U.N. decision or provoke the international community's goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests."
Wang also urged the U.S. and South Korea "to stop increasing tensions" and said that all sides should return to negotiations.
The United States and North Korea's neighbors are joining in a fresh attempt to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, in a global pressure campaign. It is being cheered on by President Donald Trump.
After weeks of U.S. frustration over China's reluctance to take action, Trump's strategy of relying on Beijing's help showed early signs of paying off. The White House praised China's move to join a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution slapping new sanctions that could cut off about one-third of the North's roughly $3 billion in annual exports.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the approval of new U.N. sanctions targeting North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs is a "very good outcome."
Tillerson is meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in the Philippines on the sidelines of a regional summit. Tillerson says he and the South Korean diplomat plan to discuss the sanctions during their meeting, along with next steps to pressure the North.
Kang is echoing Tillerson's praise for the sanctions approved Saturday by the U.N. Security Council. She says it was a "very, very good outcome." Kang is thanking the U.S. for consulting with South Korea on the sanctions.
The meeting comes as the U.S. and Asian nations join together to try to step up Pyongyang's economic and diplomatic isolation.