North and South envoys face off at UN meeting

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North and South envoys face off at UN meeting

As the international community is working on additional measures against Pyongyang following its recent fifth nuclear test, top diplomats of the two Koreas face off in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting this week.

As he departed for New York on Saturday from Incheon International Airport, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se told reporters, “We are currently discussing in-depth ways to supplement the UN Security Council Resolution 2270 and for North Korea to feel pain for its additional nuclear test.”

Yun is expected to hold talks with at least 15 foreign ministers, during which he is expected to draw out support from the international community to put additional sanctions and pressure on North Korea for its fifth nuclear test conducted on Sept. 9 in its Punggye-ri test site in North Hamgyong Province.

“I plan to engage with omnidirectional diplomacy,” said Yun, saying he hopes especially to reach out to countries that he did not have an occasion to meet recently.

He later added that he plans to “discuss with member states on how to be of the same mind to strongly respond to North Korea, which is posing a serious threat to global peace and security.”

Yun will meet trilaterally on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in New York to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear issue. Kishida and Yun will also meet separately in bilateral talks afterwards.

This marks the debut of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who took his post in May, at the UN General Assembly, where he is expected to give a key note address. Ri began diplomatic efforts on Thursday in a summit in Venezuela, where he defended the North’s fifth nuclear test as a necessary measure against Washington’s military activities on the Korean Peninsula.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - following a two-day meeting in Washington released a joint statement Thursday that “strongly condemned” North Korea’s nuclear tests on Jan. 6 and Sept. 9, in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

The joint statement from the so-called P5 Conference also urged North Korea to “respond to diplomatic efforts aimed at the eventual resumption of the six-party talks and achieving complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”

The UN Security Council released a separate press statement on Sept. 9, following an emergency meeting to respond to Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test.

U.S. lawmakers also censured Pyongyang through a resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, which was introduced to the Senate on Thursday.

The resolution called on China “to exercise its significant economic and diplomatic leverage” over North Korea, including through the “aggressive enforcement of existing United Nations Security Council resolutions, in order to halt North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile programs.”

It then urged the UN Security Council “to take immediate action to pass additional and meaningful new measures.”

Its recommendations include further restrictions on imports and exports of coal, iron and precious metals and the prohibition of oil exports to North Korea; restrictions on the supply of aviation fuel and a ban on civilian aviation; a ban on bulk cash transfers to and from North Korea; blocking the use of North Korean laborers in third-country projects; and “a downgrading of North Korean diplomatic representation.”

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Independent Task Force in a report released on Friday said the current U.S. policy of strategic patience toward North Korea “will not halt the recurrent and dangerous cycle of provocation or ensure a stable regional security order into the future.”

The report, titled, “A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia,” further said prioritizing North Korea “cannot be overlooked,” though it may incur costs to other U.S. objectives.

The task force also recommended U.S. officials to “undertake a major diplomatic effort to elevate the issue to the top of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship and enlist China in bringing about a stable and nonnuclear Korean Peninsula.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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