Kono, Tillerson on same page over N Korea


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that North Korea must halt its "threatening behavior" before talks can begin.

The secretary of state told the United Nations on Friday that China and Russian Federation need to exert more pressure on their sometimes-ally - China by stopping the flow of crude oil to North Korean refineries, and Russian Federation by ending the employment of North Korean migrants in that country, under "slave-like conditions", with wages sent back home to fund the nuclear weapons program.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC, who's discussed North Korea while golfing with Trump, told the Atlantic magazine this week that he believes "there's a 3-in-10 chance we use the military option" and if North Korea again tests a nuclear bomb "I would say 70 percent". "As Chinese crude oil flows to North Korean refineries, the United States questions China's commitment to solving an issue that has serious implications for its own citizens", Tillerson said. He affirmed that the US was willing to speak with North Korea, but only if the world sees a "sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior".

Mr Trump promised to retaliate to any aggression from North Korea with "fire and fury", evening threatening to "totally destroy" the hermit nation if it even attempts to target the United States. "The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved", Tillerson told the meeting. "We will, in the meantime, keep our channels of communication open".

He said the US will not accept, as a precondition of talks, ending existing sanctions.

North Korea has conducted more than 20 ballistic missile tests during 2017 and its most powerful nuclear explosion to date.

In opening Friday's Security Council session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to start communicating with North Korea to reduce the risk of "miscalculation or misunderstanding".

He insisted that Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons is a self-defensive measure aimed at protecting its sovereign rights from "the US nuclear threat and blackmail".

Quintana arrived in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss the issue with Japanese officials after a visit earlier this week to South Korea, where he investigated North Korean allegations that Seoul abducted 12 North Korean women from China. He questioned "Russia's dedication as a partner for peace", blaming it for continuing to allow North Korean workers to toil in "slave-like conditions" for wages used to fund nuclear arms.

U.S. President Donald Trump's meeting with families of abductees in November during a visit to Japan raised their hope for more public awareness and worldwide support. Before his Tuesday remarks, the USA had called for a suspension of nuclear and missile testing and demonstration of North Korea's sincerity about denuclearization. For the third time in recent months, reports emerged from White House sources that Trump was thinking of canning Tillerson, who appeared publicly at odds again with the White House line on North Korea. "It is time to immediately re-establish and strengthen communication channels".

North Korea's main nuclear reactors are at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center north of Pyongyang. They should agree to what we propose: "'Put your drills - which, in principle, are a provocation by the United States against the North - on hold for the talks to start", Kim said.

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