Posts Tagged ‘Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’

Iran nuclear deal should be preserved: Russia

October 6, 2017

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

ASTANA (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday he hoped U.S. President Donald Trump would make a “balanced” decision on whether to remain engaged in the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

“It is very important to preserve it in its current form and of course the participation of the United States will be a very significant factor in this regard,” Lavrov told reporters on a visit to Kazakhstan.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for lifting most international sanctions that had crippled its economy.

Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the deal, a senior White House official said on Thursday, in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel.

Trump, who has called the pact an “embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated”, has been weighing whether it serves U.S. security interests as he faces an Oct. 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying with its terms.

If Trump declines to certify Iran’s compliance, U.S. congressional leaders would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran suspended under the agreement.

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Russia and Saudi Arabia ‘sign $3bn arms deal’ as King Salman visit shows how much relations have changed

October 6, 2017

Sergei Lavrov calls it ‘a real turning point’. For Saudi Arabia, King Salman says, Russia is ‘a friendly country’

By Oliver Carroll Moscow

The Independent 

A faulty golden aircraft escalator and anger from Moscow’s elite about a 200-strong Saudi retinue taking over all the city’s 5-star hotels failed to dampen the fanfare accompanying King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on his first state visit to Russia. Met with an honour guard of dignitaries and the Preobrazhensky military orchestra, the Saudi king was sped along on a highway specially lined with billboards advertising the visit and a week-long festival of Saudi culture.

This was a big deal for Russia – with multi-billion energy and defence contracts in the balance – and it wanted King Salman to know.

Ahead of the visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the event as “an historical moment”. At the summit in the Kremlin on Thursday, Vladimir Putin agreed: This was a “landmark event” that would provide a “boost” to relations. And King Salman returned the compliments. Russia was “a friendly country,” he said.

According to the Kommersant newspaper, agreement has already been reached on a $3bn (£2.2bn) deal to supply the Saudis with Russia’s most advanced air defence missile system, the S400 Triumph. According to the publication, the deal will be signed off at a WTO meeting at the end of October. There may be other deals forthcoming on aircraft and helicopters – that depending on the success of talks.

Defence is one of few technological sectors where Russia can still claim to be a world leader, with over a fifth of all arms deals in 2016. But with China and India, Russia’s biggest markets, looking to move towards military self-sufficiency, Russia is with increasing urgency looking to open new markets.

The Saudi partnership comes at the end of several years of courtship – and off the back of a tetchy relationship.

Russia first announced that it had brokered a $20m (£15m) deal back in 2012. But that deal had several strings attached, namely a demand that the Kremlin could not sell the C-300 missile system to Iran, the Saudis’ major regional rivals. Then, President Putin looked the other way, signing off on a new arms contract with Tehran worth $1bn (£762m).

That move underlined the historical distrust between the two countries. The Saudis have been accused for supporting anti-Russian insurgency – whether in mujahedeens against Soviet troops in Afghanistan, or Wahhabist Islamic groups in Chechnya and Dagestan. The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s rascal president and keen promoter of rival Sufism ideology, at talks in the Kremlin served as a reminder of those differences.

Most recently, Russian operations in Syria have put it in direct conflict with Saudi interests. The Saudis remain opposed to Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is being supported by Russian military power. The gulf kingdom, on its part, is also believed to be funding rebel groups opposed to al-Assad.

But while the sides remain some way from a common position, the Independent has learned negotiators believe progress on de-escalation zones may be made.

“The Saudis have lost interest and realise that Russia now owns the crisis,” says Yuri Barmin, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council. “They see how the balance of power is changing in the region: how the US is pulling out and how Russia is now increasing its influence in the Middle East.”

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The Boeing 747 carrying Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrives in Moscow’s Vnukovo II airport (EPA)

Russia’s geopolitical march in the region has made a highly improbable state visit possible. But the timing of the talks has little to do with Syria. Instead, King Salman is believed to be in Moscow to shore up international support for his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, next in line to the throne.

“King Salman wants Russia’s backing for his son,” says Mr Barmin. “Bin Salman is poorly perceived at home over his role in the unpopular Yemen war and the blockade of Qatar.”

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 S-400

For Russia the stakes are even higher. Hamstrung by Western sanctions and uncompetitive industry, it hopes the new bonhomie will provide impetus to its struggling economy.

On Wednesday, President Putin hinted that there would likely be further cooperation to lift the oil price, the lifeblood of the Russian economy. Ministers also made it clear that they hope the Saudi delegation will deliver on investment from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth funds.

So far, the record on Saudi investment is poor. Of $10bn (£7bn) promised to Russia in 2015, only $1billion has actually ever materialised.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-king-salman-visit-saudi-arabia-moscow-vladimir-putin-a7985161.html

Russia Accuses U.S. of ‘Deadly Provocations’ Against Russian Troops in Syria — “Two-faced policy” of the United States

October 4, 2017

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday accused the United States and its allies of orchestrating “deadly provocations” against Russian troops in Syria.

Moscow has complained about what it has says are suspiciously friendly ties between U.S.-backed militias, U.S. special forces, and Islamic State in Syria and accused Washington of trying to slow the advance of the Syrian army.

“There are a lot of questions to U.S.-led forces in Syria,” Lavrov told pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Wednesday.

“Either they accidentally bomb Syrian troops after which Islamic State militants launch an offensive, or they get other terrorists to attack strategically important objects … or they stage deadly provocations against our military servicemen.”

Lavrov’s deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, said last week that the “two-faced policy” of the United States was to blame for the death of Russian Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov in Syria, something Washington flatly denied.

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Asapov was killed by Islamic State shelling.

Lavrov also said on Wednesday that the United States and the coalition it leads were “unwelcome guests” in Syria from the point of view of international law and accused Washington of “dividing terrorists into bad and no so bad ones”.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

South Korea braces for possible new missile test to mark North’s founding day

September 9, 2017

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South Korean marines take part in a military exercise on South Korea¡¯s Baengnyeong Island, near the disputed sea border with the north, September 7, 2017. Choi Jae-gu/Yonhap via REUTERS Reuters

By Christine Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea braced for a possible further missile test by North Korea as it marked its founding anniversary on Saturday, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test rattled global financial markets and further escalated tensions in the region.

Throughout the week, South Korean officials have warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of U.N. sanctions and amid an escalating standoff with the United States.

Pyongyang marks its founding anniversary each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware. Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has escalated as North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has stepped up the development of weapons, testing a string of missiles this year, including one flying over Japan, and conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.

Experts believe the isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent.

Celebrating its founding anniversary, a front-page editorial of the Saturday edition of North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said the country should make “more high-tech Juche weapons to continuously bring about big historical events such as a miraculous victory of July 28.”. The July date refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.

South Korean nuclear experts, checking for contamination, said on Friday they had found minute traces of radioactive xenon gas but that it was too early to link it to Sunday’s explosion.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said it had been conducting tests on land, air and water samples since shortly after the North Korean nuclear test on Sunday.

Xenon is a naturally occurring, colourless gas that is used in manufacturing of some sorts of lights. But the NSSC said it had detected xenon-133, a radioactive isotope that does not occur naturally and which has in the past been linked to North Korea’s nuclear tests.

There was no chance the xenon “will have an impact on South Korea’s territory or population”, the agency said.

Trump has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea and on Thursday said he would prefer not to use military action, but if he did, it would be a “very sad day” for North Korea.

“Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable,” Trump told reporters. “If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”

Even as Trump has insisted that now is not the time to talk, senior members of his administration have made clear that the door to a diplomatic solution is open, especially given the U.S. assessment that any pre-emptive strike would unleash massive North Korean retaliation.

North Korea says it needs its weapons to protect itself from U.S. aggression and regularly threatens to destroy the United States.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

US CARRIER ON THE MOVE

The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered carrier, left its home port in Japan for a routine autumn patrol of the Western Pacific, a Navy spokeswoman said. That area included waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula, she added, without giving any further details.

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USS Ronald Reagan

The Ronald Reagan was out on routine patrol from May until August, and was sent to the Sea of Japan with the another carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, to take part in drills with Japan’s Self Defense Forces as well as the South Korean military.

North Korea vehemently objects to military exercises on or near the peninsula, and China and Russia have suggested the United States and South Korea halt their exercises to lower tension.

While Trump talked tough on North Korea, China agreed on Thursday that the United Nations should take more action against it, but it also pushed for dialogue.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a new set of sanctions soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it was too early to draw conclusions about the final form of the U.N. resolution, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying at a news conference on Friday.

The United States on Friday told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting on Monday to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions on North Korea for its missile and nuclear program, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said in a statement.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last Monday that she intended to call for a vote on Sept. 11 and then the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday.

The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and to subject Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear how North Korean allies China and Russia would vote, but a senior U.S. official on Friday night expressed scepticism that either nation would accept anything more stringent than a ban on imports of North Korean textiles.

Chinese officials have privately expressed fears that imposing an oil embargo could risk triggering massive instability in its neighbor.

North Korea offered fresh vitriol against the pending sanctions, specifically targeting Haley, who this week accused Kim of “begging for war”.

“There is nothing more foolish than thinking we, a strong nuclear state, will endure this evil pressure aimed at overthrowing our state,” the North’s official news agency said in a commentary.

“Even if Nikki Haley is blind, she must use her mouth correctly. The United States administration will pay for not being able to control the mouth of their U.N. representative.”

China is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92 percent of two-way trade last year. It also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime.

China’s economic influence has been felt by South Korea as well. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China.

Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor  and key suppliers slid on Friday on worries over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments.

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THAAD missile launcher for ballistic missile defense

The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumor”.

(Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo in TOKYO, Hyunjoo Jin and Ju-min Park in SEOUL, Christian Lowe in MOSCOW; and Michelle Nichols in UNITED NATIONS; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel, Mary Milliken & Shri Navaratnam)

Russia urges against ’emotions’ over North Korea (Putin working overtime to save China from North Korea crisis)

September 5, 2017

AFP

© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP | World powers are scrambling to react to the latest advance in the North’s rogue weapons programme, which has sent global tensions soaring

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday spoke out against “giving in to emotions” amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme, in phone talks with his US counterpart, Moscow said.Lavrov “noted that a choice should be made in favour of political and diplomatic efforts to look for a peaceful settlement,” Russia’s foreign ministry said after he spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

It added that Lavrov “urged against giving in to emotions”.

Lavrov “vigorously spoke out against an escalation of military tensions in Northeast Asia,” the ministry said.

World powers are scrambling to react to the latest advance in the North’s rogue nuclear weapons programme, which has sent global tensions soaring.

The United States is planning to circulate as early as Tuesday a draft sanctions resolution in response to North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

Lavrov said that Russia is ready to consider it, the ministry said.

At the same time, the avoidance of a military solution to the crisis “should be reflected in the reaction of the international community,” the statement said.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin warned earlier Tuesday of a global catastrophe unless a diplomatic solution is reached over North Korea and rejected US calls for more sanctions as “useless”, widening a split among major powers over how to rein in Pyongyang.

Related:

China and Russia are working against the U.S.

Qatar and Russia to bolster economic ties — Qatar Officially Part of The Russia, China, Iran Alliance

August 30, 2017

Two of the world’s largest energy producers have vowed to increase trade relations. Qatar is under pressure amid an economic boycott by neighboring Gulf states over its alleged support of terrorism.

Katar Doha - Sergey Lavrov und Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (Reuters/N. Zeitoon)

Qatar and Russia announced the new agreement, which will see closer trade ties, during a visit by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Gulf Nation on Wednesday.

Lavrov made the commitment after a meeting in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

The Russian foreign minister told reporters that Moscow “attached great importance” to economic and energy cooperation between the two countries.

Sheikh Mohammed, for his part, said Qatar could no longer rely on neighboring states to support its economy or guarantee food security.

The two nations are among the world’s top oil and gas producing countries.

Last year, Qatar bought a stake worth billions in Russia’s state-controlled oil company, Rosneft.

Read more – What is the Qatar crisis?

Qatar is looking to expand its economic relations after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirate severed diplomatic and trade ties with the Gulf nation in June.

The Arab countries accused Qatar of destabilizing the region by supporting “terrorists,” a charge dismissed by Doha.

The diplomatic rift, aimed at isolating Qatar, has disrupted supply chains and affected flow of goods into the tiny emirate.

Read – Qatar resumes full diplomatic ties with Iran

‘Arab allies not willing to negotiate’

With no signs of tensions easing, Sheikh Mohammed said his country was willing to negotiate an end to the diplomatic crisis, but had seen no sign that Saudi Arabia and its allies were open to mediation.

“Qatar maintains its position that this crisis can only be achieved through a constructive dialogue … but the blockading counties are not responding to any efforts being conducted by Kuwait or other friendly countries,” the Qatari Foreign Minister told reporters at a news conference with his Russian counterpart.

Lavrov – who has also visited Kuwait and the UAE as part of his Middle East tour – called for all parties to find a solution.

Read – Beyond Libya: Russia’s strategy in the Middle East

He said if face-to-face negotiations started, Russia would be ready to contribute to the mediation.

“It’s in our interests for the GCC to be united and strong,” the Russian top diplomat said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Russia has long sought to establish itself as a major player in the region’s affairs, most notably in Syria’s six-year civil war, where it backs President Bashar al-Assad.

ap/kms (AFP, Reuters)

 http://www.dw.com/en/qatar-and-russia-to-bolster-economic-ties/a-40299911
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Fatemeh Bahrami | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A Iranian woman walks past a wall painting in the shape of Iranian flag in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.
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Iran has boasted about its ballistic missiles, many of which are on mobile launchers

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© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File / by Ali Choukeir | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on July 30, 2017 shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) receiving prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah

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Qatar Says No Sign Arab States Willing to Negotiate Over Boycott

August 30, 2017

DOHA — Qatar’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that his country was willing to negotiate an end to a Gulf diplomatic rift but had seen no sign that Saudi Arabia and other countries imposing sanctions on Doha were open to mediation.

Kuwait and the United States are trying to heal a bitter dispute between Qatar and four Arab countries that has damaged business ties and disrupted travel for thousands of citizens in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Emirates severed political and trade ties with the small gas-rich country on June 4, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.

A visit this week to the UAE and Qatar by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov showed no signs of having eased tensions among the Gulf Arab powers.

“Qatar maintains its position that this crisis can only be achieved through a constructive dialogue … but the blockading counties are not responding to any efforts being conducted by Kuwait or other friendly countries,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters in Doha on Wednesday at a news conference with his Russian counterpart.

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Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

The UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, in an interview with U.S.-based magazine the Atlantic on Monday, said his country would negotiate with Qatar so long as Doha did not set any preconditions for talks.

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Yousef al-Otaiba

Sheikh Mohammed said on Wednesday Qatar planned to bolster trade with Russia, one of the world’s biggest gas exporters, and that Qatar could no longer rely on neighboring states to support its economy or guarantee food security.

Lavrov said if face-to-face negotiations started, Russia would be ready to contribute to the mediation and that it was in Russia’s interest “for the GCC to be united and strong”.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Alison Williams)

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  (UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, in an interview with U.S.-based magazine the Atlantic)

China scores diplomatic coup in sea row — China pushes for new six-party talks on N. Korea — “It’s a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China”

August 6, 2017

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MANILA (AFP) – 

China on Sunday scored a diplomatic coup in its campaign to weaken regional resistance against its sweeping claims to the South China Sea when Southeast Asian nations issued a diluted statement on the dispute and agreed to Beijing’s terms on talks.

After two days of tense meetings on the dispute in the Philippine capital, foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint communique that diplomats involved said was carefully worded to avoid angering China.

The release of the statement came shortly after the ministers met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and agreed on a framework for conducting negotiations on the decades-long row that included key clauses advocated by China.

“This is an important outcome of our joint effort,” Wang told reporters as he celebrated the agreement.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Its sweeping claims overlap with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

China has dramatically expanded its presence in the contested areas in recent years by building giant artificial islands that could be used as military bases, raising concerns it will eventually establish de facto control over the waters.

In what two diplomats involved said was another victory for Beijing on Sunday, ASEAN members declined to say in their joint statement that the hoped-for code of conduct with China be “legally binding”.

Vietnam, the most determined critic of China on the issue, had insisted during two days of negotiations that ASEAN insist the code be legally binding, arguing otherwise it would be meaningless.

The ASEAN ministers failed to release the joint statement as expected after meeting on Saturday because of their differences on the sea issue, with Vietnam pushing for tougher language and Cambodia lobbying hard for China.

“Vietnam is adamant, and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests,” one diplomat told AFP on Sunday as negotiations extended into overtime.

– Consensus struggle –

Tensions over the sea have long vexed ASEAN, which operates on a consensus basis but has had to balance the interests of rival claimants and those more aligned to China.

Critics of China have accused it of trying to divide ASEAN with strong-armed tactics and chequebook diplomacy, enticing smaller countries in the bloc such as Cambodia and Laos to support it.

The Philippines, under previous president Benigno Aquino, had been one of the most vocal critics of China and filed a case before a UN-backed tribunal.

The tribunal last year ruled China’s sweeping claims to the sea had no legal basis.

But China, despite being a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, ignored the ruling.

The Philippines, under new President Rodrigo Duterte, decided to play down the verdict in favour of pursuing warmer ties with Beijing. This in turn led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China.

“It’s clear that China’s pressure on individual ASEAN governments has paid off,” Bill Hayton, a South China Sea expert and associate fellow with the Asia Programme at Chatham House in London, told AFP.

Hayton and other analysts said the agreement on a framework for talks on Sunday came 15 years after a similar document was signed committing the parties to begin negotiations

The 2002 document was more strongly worded against China.

China used those 15 years to cement its claims, while continuing to get ASEAN to issue ever-weaker statements of opposition, according to the analysts.

“It would appear China has never lost in terms of seeing the language of ASEAN forum statements being toned down,” Ei Sun Oh, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told AFP.

Philippine academic and security analyst Richard Heydarian expressed stronger sentiments as he summarised Monday’s developments: “Overall it’s a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China”.

by Ayee Macaraig, Martin Abbugao
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China pushes for new six-party talks as N. Korea

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© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, AFP | UN Security Council members vote on a resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea at UN headquarters in New York on August 5.

Video by Elizabeth WALSH

Text by Khatya CHHOR 

Latest update : 2017-08-06

A day after the UN imposed strict new sanctions on North Korea, China’s foreign minister called Sunday for the resumption of six-party talks to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and warned that the crisis was entering a “critical” new phase.

In a 15-0 vote on Saturday, the UN Security Council imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea that could slash its exports by as much as $1 billion a year – a third of its export revenue – in response to two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests Pyongyang carried out last month. The July tests heightened fears that North Korean missiles were now capable of hitting the continental United States.

“After the UN resolution is passed, the situation on the peninsula will enter a very critical phase,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang, quoted by China’s CGTN state broadcaster. “We urge all parties to judge and act with responsibility in order to prevent the tensions from escalating.”

The UN resolution imposes a total ban on exports of coal, iron, lead, iron and lead ore as well as seafood. It also prohibits new investment in, or the establishment of, joint ventures with North Korean companies. Nine North Korean officials and four entities were added to the UN’s blacklist while foreign permits for North Korean workers have been suspended.

Wang warned Pyongyang that it should make “smart” decisions going forward, while counselling Washington and Seoul not to respond with “provocative” actions.

Speaking to reporters after talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Hong-Yo on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Manila, Wang said he had urged Pyongyang to stop testing “the international community’s goodwill” with its ICBM launches and nuclear tests.

Wang noted that the new UN resolution also calls for a return to negotiations, saying diplomatic measures were needed to prevent the stand-off from escalating further.

Earlier on Sunday, Wang said that all sides should work toward restarting long-stalled six-party nuclear talks between China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.

“The aim is to bring the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table and seek a solution through negotiations until the denuclearisation of the peninsula and the stability of the peninsula are achieved,” he said.

North Korea pulled out of the six-party talks in 2009 after the UN Security Council condemned it for launching a long-range rocket.

A deputy spokeman for the Japanese foreign ministry on Sunday welcomed the UN sanctions but added that more “effective pressure” was needed in dealing with Pyongyang and that it was not yet time to restart talks.

“Now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea so that they will take concrete actions towards de-nuclearisation,” Toshihide Ando told a press conference in Manila.

US pressure on Beijing

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged China to take a more aggressive role in reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. As North Korea’s largest trading partner, China is uniquely positioned to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the Security Council vote.

The US led resolution passed by the SC on N. Korea will be a loss of 1/3 of their exports = over $1 billion in hard currency 

But she warned that the international community “should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem – not even close”.

“The threat of an outlaw nuclearised North Korean dictatorship remains … [and] is rapidly growing more dangerous,” Haley said.

China urges US concessions

In an interview with the MSNBC news channel on Saturday, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster was asked if the United States was gearing up for a pre-emptive “first strike” against North Korea.

Trump “has been very clear” that “he will not tolerate” Pyongyang being able to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon, McMaster said, and that entails keeping all options – including a “preventive war” – on the table.

But he acknowledged that any military solution would mean “a very costly war, in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people”.

McMaster said the US seeks instead to do “everything we can” to pressure Kim and his entourage into concluding that “it is in their interest to denuclearise”.

In his statements on Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang reiterated Beijing’s proposal for what it calls a “double suspension” – a halt to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for an end to the joint US-South Korean military exercises that alarm Pyongyang.

“This is currently the most realistic and plausible initiative, and it is the most reasonable and friendly solution,” Wang said.

But speaking to MSNBC, McMaster said Beijing’s plan to offer a freeze on joint training in return for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme was no longer viable.

“They are at a threshold capability now. ‘Freeze for freeze’ doesn’t work anymore,” he said, adding: “The goal is denuclearisation of the peninsula.”

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Ri Yong Ho, Wang Yi

North Korea Shrugs Off Sanctions Despite China’s Push to End Missile Tests — Has China Bested the Trump Administration?

August 6, 2017

U.S. lauds China for supporting latest U.N. sanctions, but Pyongyang has no plans to change

The bespectacled North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Manila on Sunday.
The bespectacled North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Manila on Sunday. PHOTO: BULLIT MARQUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

MANILA—The U.S. praised China for backing new economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council against Pyongyang over the regime’s weapons program, but North Korea indicated to its most important economic partner that there would be no change in policy.

“The fact that the Chinese were helpful and instrumental in setting up this really sweeping set of international sanctions shows they realize that this is a huge problem they need to take on, that it’s a threat to them and their region,” Susan Thornton, the U.S. State Department’s acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told journalists on the sidelines of regional security meetings in the Philippines on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is attending the forum bringing together 27 nations, including China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea, described the sanctions as “a good outcome” as he works to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program.

The Security Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution that would slash about $1 billion from North Korea’s annual foreign revenue. Ms. Thornton called the sanctions the strongest against the regime in a generation. China and Russia, two permanent council members who had previously resisted fresh sanctions against Pyongyang, said the rogue nation’s recent provocations were unacceptable.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday met his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in Manila and urged Pyongyang to halt its missile tests and other actions that violate Security Council resolutions, according to the People’s Daily Online, an official Chinese state media website.

“The China side pressed the North Korea side to deal calmly with the new UN Security Council resolution regarding North Korea, and to stop the missile tests, and even nuclear research, which violate UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the international community,” the People’s Daily Online said.

The North Korean minister restated Pyongyang’s policy on the nuclear weapons issue, but indicated a “willingness to maintain communications with the China side on this point,” according to Chinese state media. North Korea says it needs such weapons and maintains the right to build them to defend itself from the U.S.

The nine-page U.N. resolution steps up trade restrictions with Pyongyang by aiming to cut off a third of its $3 billion annual export revenue. It bans North Korea from trading coal, iron, lead, iron and lead ore, and seafood, and prohibits countries from hiring North Korean laborers and from entering or investing into new joint ventures with Pyongyang.

The resolution came after a months-long drive by the U.S. to pressure nations to isolate the North Korean regime in response to an unprecedented pace of missile testing in its ambitions to become a nuclear power. Last month, North Korea fired two missiles that appeared capable of reaching the continental U.S. and Europe. Diplomats said this raised the stakes and elevated North Korea’s military and nuclear threat from regional to global.

Before meeting with the North Korean minister in Manila, Mr. Wang said the sanctions were a necessary reaction to the launches, but urged countries to resume the negotiations known as the six-party talks, stalled since 2008. The talks included China, the U.S., South Korea, North Korea, Japan and Russia.

Mr. Wang repeated China’s call for a “dual freeze,” in which North Korea would halt its missile and nuclear programs in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea stopping major military exercises. The U.S. and South Korea rebuffed that proposal previously, and Ms. Thornton did so again Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Manila on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Manila on Sunday. PHOTO: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The U.S. will also focus on ensuring China follows through on fully implementing the new sanctions, Ms. Thornton said, suggesting China had in the past acted initially, before “slipping back” over time. “We want to make sure China…is working actively to continue putting pressure on North Korea,” she said.

Ms. Thornton also praised Saturday’s “really strong” statement by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which hosts the annual security meetings. The countries condemned North Korea’s weapons testing and called on the regime to comply with U.N. measures.

Mr. Tillerson doesn’t have a scheduled meeting with North Korea’s Mr. Ri, but both men are expected during the meeting of all 27 participants Monday.

The U.S. Secretary of State did meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for more than an hour late Sunday, ahead of a gala dinner. Neither official made any public comment.

Write to Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-korea-shrugs-off-sanctions-despite-chinas-push-to-end-missile-tests-1502020932?mod=e2tweu

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Ri Yong Ho, Wang Yi

Amid US-Russia feuding, chief diplomats Tillerson and Lavrov stay tight-lipped over talks

August 6, 2017

Neither responded to a shouted question about how new sanctions might affect their discussions

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The Associated Press
August 6, 2017

The United States and Russia are feuding, expelling diplomats in what Washington calls a new post-cold war low. But that did not stop US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from meeting for the first time since the Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Moscow.

The two held talks on Sunday on the sidelines of an Asian regional gathering in the Philippines, and as investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election push ahead. They smiled and exchanged pleasantries but made no substantive remarks to journalists, who were briefly permitted to observe the start of the meeting.

Neither Tillerson nor Lavrov responded to a shouted question about how the new US penalties might affect their discussions. More than an hour later, Tillerson emerged from the meeting and boarded his motorcade without commenting.

Tillerson and President Donald Trump opposed the sanctions package, passed by Congress in July, which makes it harder for Trump to ever ease penalties on Russia. Trump signed the bill last week, but called it “seriously flawed”.

The White House said Trump’s opposition stemmed from the bill’s failure to grant the president sufficient flexibility on when to lift sanctions. Trump’s critics saw his objections as another sign that he is too eager to pursue closer ties to Russia, or to protect the former cold war foe from penalties designed to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, election meddling and other troublesome behaviour.

Even so, Trump’s administration has argued there’s good reason for the US to seek a more productive relationship. Tillerson has cited modest signs of progress in Syria, where the US and Russia recently brokered a cease-fire in the war-torn country’s southwest, as a sign there’s fertile ground for cooperation.

Yet Russia continues to dismiss any suggestion it interfered in the US election. The former Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak, denied the allegations in an interview screened on Russian state television on Saturday. He said he was merely carrying out his duties as a diplomat when he met with members of Trump’s campaign team.

“Any diplomat, Russian or not, works to better understand the policy of a country he’s posted to, figure out what the new administration’s course is and understand where cooperation is possible,” Kislyak said.

Still, a US Justice Department investigation is moving ahead into Russia’s election interference and potential Trump campaign collusion.

Trump denies any collusion and has repeatedly questioned US intelligence about Moscow’s involvement. Trump has tried to turn the issue into a political rallying cry, arguing that the controversy is an attempt by Democrats and the media to undermine the many millions of Americans who voted for him.

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2105644/amid-us-russia-feuding-chief-diplomats-tillerson-and