Leaders back full enforcement of sanctions
MANILA: East Asian leaders met in Manila yesterday to condemn North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and urge all countries to fully implement UN sanctions against Pyongyang.
US President Donald Trump, who was to debut at the East Asia Summit (EAS), skipped the meeting, apparently due to a delay in proceedings. He headed to the United States around the time the 18-nation summit started, about 100 minutes behind schedule.
North Korea’s “ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile technologies” in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, will be condemned in the statement. “We strongly urged the DPRK to immediately and fully comply with all relevant ... resolutions and underlined that all EAS members are committed to full and thorough implementation of resolutions on North Korea and urged all States to do the same.”
UN Security Council resolutions ban imports of coal, textiles and seafood from North Korea, as well as limiting exports of crude oil and petroleum products to the country.
The participants in the 18-nation summit, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in lieu of Mr Trump, will demand that Pyongyang “abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner”, a draft of the statement says.
At the summit, Mr Abe and Mr Tillerson are expected to call for applying “maximum pressure” on North Korea in concert with the international community to compel it to stop nuclear and ballistic missile tests and engage in credible talks for its denuclearisation.
The 18 leaders will also urge North Korea to address “humanitarian concerns of the international community, including the abductions issue”, the draft says, in reference to North Korean agents’ kidnapping of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
While Japan and the US are expected to push China to do more in reining in North Korea, Mr Li is likely to call on Washington and other involved parties to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and negotiation.
China, which accounts for about 90% of North Korea’s total trade and is a major supplier of oil to the country, opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development programme but fears strong economic pressure could trigger a regime collapse, resulting in the loss of a strategic buffer zone between itself and South Korea, where the US maintains a large military presence.