Obama and Li agree to support denuclearization

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Obama and Li agree to support denuclearization

As Washington has been pressuring Beijing to discipline Pyongyang for its continued provocations, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to improve cooperation in the UN Security Council regarding North Korea during a meeting in New York on Monday.

“Both leaders condemned North Korea’s Sept. 9 nuclear test,” according to the White House, “and resolved to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, including by invigorating cooperation in the United Nations Security Council and in law enforcement channels on North Korea.”

Obama and Li held the bilateral talks on the sidelines of the ongoing 71st UN General Assembly, 10 days after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test this year in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The two leaders last met at the East Asia Summit in Vientiane in Laos.

After Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test, Obama emphasized in a statement on the same day that “the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”

He immediately communicated with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and said through the statement that they vowed, “to take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”

But as with the UN Security Council Resolution 2270, passed in March, such sanctions have little bite without the full participation of China, the North’s main trading partner.

On Sunday, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in New York and released a joint statement calling for stronger pressure on Pyongyang, including further restricting of revenue sources for North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

A new resolution for Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test is currently in the works in the UN Security Council.

Obama was scheduled to make his last speech as U.S. president at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. While he aims to focus on the refugee crisis and host a summit on the issue later that day, he is also expected to dwell on the need for additional measures against North Korea.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser at the White House, said that in addition to the broader North Korea issue, Obama is expected to be “laying out why efforts to strengthen the norm against testing are important” and “why it’s important to hold countries accountable when they do violate international law, international norms.”

“China took part in the unanimously-adopted UNSC Resolution 2270 [adopted in March] and has consistently revealed the position that it will faithfully implement the resolution,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesperson Sun Nahm-kook in a briefing in Seoul on Tuesday.

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

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