MANILA, Philippines — Hours after thefresh sanctions against North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended a meeting of Southeast Asian countries and their partners Sunday — and discussions of the regime’s destabilizing nuclear and missile activity were front and center.
Tillerson called the new U.N. sanctions a “good outcome” as he embarked on his first day at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meeting. While his North Korean counterpart is in attendance, Tillerson will not meet with him during the summit, according to a U.S. State Department official.
The sanctions, the strongest U.N. action taken against the regime in a decade, are in retaliation for the regime’s two intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea is now banned from exporting all iron, lead and seafood. The U.N. says the measures will cost North Korea over $1 billion a year in hard currency.
In a rare vote, both Russia and China backed the sanctions, allowing for their passage. President Trump commended the sanctions and singled out Russia and China, saying he appreciates their “cooperation in securing passage of this resolution.”
Susan Thornton, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia who is traveling with Tillerson in Manila, described the Chinese as “helpful and instrumental” in drafting the U.N. sanctions. This is a “good step” that shows the Chinese are serious and recognize the gravity, she said.
Recent tensions between the U.S. and China, however, have emerged as the U.S. has pushed the Asian powerhouse to do more when it comes to North Korea and China has come up empty-handed.
“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet… they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”last week.
On Sunday, however,to stop its nuclear and missile tests. The U.S. embraced the cooperation, although the threat of the U.S. taking unilateral action against Chinese entities remains on the table.
“We want to make sure that China is continuing to implement fully the sanctions regime and that it is a working actively to continue putting pressure on North Korea and not just kind of episodic back and forth that we have seen,” Thornton said. “If we see that they are not being implemented…