The United States and China agreed Wednesday that companies of the two countries should not do business with U.N.-blacklisted North Korean entities, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as he urged Beijing to exert "much greater pressure" on Pyongyang.
Tillerson made the remark after the inaugural U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue that brought together the countries' top diplomats and defense chiefs. Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis hosted Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the People's Liberation Army's Joint Staff.
North Korea was a top issue at the talks.
"The most acute threat in the region today is posed by the DPRK. We both call for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we call on the DPRK to halt its illegal nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile tests as stipulated in the U.N. Security Council resolutions," Tillerson said.
"We reaffirmed our commitment to implement in full all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. For example, we both agreed that our companies should not do business with any U.N.-designated North Korean entities in accordance with these resolutions," he said.
The talks came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said Chinese pressure hasn't worked.
In a Tweet, Trump said, "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!"
Tillerson said he made clear to China that the U.S. "regards North Korea as our top security threat" and Beijing has a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region."
Tillerson also said that Pyongyang has engaged in a number of "criminal enterprises" to earn hard currency for its nuclear and missile programs, such as money laundering, extorting North Korean laborers and malicious cyber activities.
"We must step up our efforts to help to curtail these sources of revenue. Countries around the world and the U.N. Security Council are joining in this effort and we hope China will do their part as well," Tillerson said.
"The United States remains committed to holding North Korea accountable for multiple violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions which expressly prohibit its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program," he said.
Mattis also said the two sides agreed to work together for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula
"We reaffirmed North Korea's nuclear missile program is a threat to peace and security in Asia-Pacific region. We also affirmed our strong commitment to cooperate, including through the U.N., to realize our shared goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.
Wednesday's talks came amid rising calls for tougher sanctions on the North after American college student Otto Warmbier died just days after he was released from North Korea in a coma following 17 months of detention for taking down a political propaganda sign from a hotel.
Trump has condemned the "brutality" of the North Korean regime.
Mattis said Warmbier's death goes "beyond any understanding."
"We see a young man go over there healthy and with a minor act of mischief come home dead, basically -- dies immediately after he gets here. There is no way that we can look at a situation like this with any kind of understanding," Mattis said.
"This goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility towards any human being. So what you're seeing is, I think, the American people's frustration with a regime that provokes, provokes and provokes, and basically plays outside the rules, plays fast and loose with the truth, that sort of thing," he said. (Yonhap)
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