South Korea open to talks with North amid nuclear crisis


South Korea open to talks with North amid nuclear crisis

While China agrees with sanctions on the North, Wang, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said Sunday that they should be aimed at forcing Pyongyang to return to negotiations directed at taming its nuclear ambitions.

Also on Sunday the foreign ministers of ASEAN and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

North Korea is determined to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and officials in Washington say its latest test a week ago showed it may be able to reach most of the country. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working overseas, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

The issue was also likely to top the agenda when ASEAN ministers meet with their dialogue partners, including the United States, Japan, China and Russian Federation for Asia's largest security forum on Monday.

"By the end of this month during the joint working group meeting on the implementation of code of conduct, all the parties will discuss the thinking, principle and plan for the next stage consultation of the code of conduct and we will build a consensus between China and ASEAN countries with necessary appropriations for that", he said.

Tillerson's remarks might be an attempt to try another tack by the United States, which also has tried to get Pyongyang's ally China to use its influence to prevent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from building a nuclear arsenal.

In July, South Korea's Defense Ministry proposed talks between representatives of the two countries' militaries at Tongil-gak on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, the so-called truce village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two rivals. The sanctions could further choke North Korea's struggling economy by slashing its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.

The ministers had been debating for at least two days on how to respond to China collectively, with Vietnam said to be strongly resisting an agreement on the framework for a code of conduct as pushed by Beijing.

The meetings will be attended by Ministers from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam.

It is unclear how a non-legally binding COC is different from the non-binding DOC.

He added that the framework "will pave the way for the textural negotiations on the CoC in the coming year".

Some critics and diplomats told Reuters that China's sudden interest in starting negotiations for the COC after 15 years of delays is meant to buy time to complete its strategic objectives in the South China Sea.

Speaking to reporters at the forum, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said he hoped North and South Korea could improve relations, and that he felt that North Korea's foreign minister did not entirely reject proposals voiced by his South Korean counterpart. World leaders, including President Trump are scheduled to take part in the East Asia Summit, a leaders-only security forum.



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