Tillerson skips gala attended by NKorean envoy

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on developments on efforts to ratchet up pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program. (all times local):

11:55 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has skipped a dinner in the Philippines for foreign ministers that North Korea’s top diplomat attended.

According to Tillerson’s public schedule, he was due to attend the dinner at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering in Manila.

Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond says that after a productive first day, Tillerson has taken time to prepare for Day 2.

Representing the United States at the dinner was Susan Thornton — acting assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

Before Tillerson’s trip, the U.S. had said he had no plans to interact with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Ri was spotted at the gala smiling and toasting with the other foreign ministers.

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9:20 p.m.

China is providing a welcome boost to the global campaign to pressure North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear tests.

China is the North’s economic lifeline. The Trump administration is cautiously embracing China’s apparent newfound cooperation.

But Washington says it will be watching closely to ensure that China doesn’t ease up on the North — if and when the world’s attention is diverted elsewhere.

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2:35 p.m.

The United States says it will be watching China closely to ensure it fully and continuously implements new U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

Susan Thornton is the top U.S. diplomat for Asia. She says in the past, there’s been a pattern in which China complies with sanctions after a North Korean provocation, but then slips back over time.

Thornton says the U.S. wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there’s “not this kind of episodic back and forth that we’ve seen.”

Still, Thornton says China’s vote for the sanctions is a good step that shows Beijing understands the gravity of the problem.

Thornton says the U.S. isn’t currently considering China’s proposal to freeze U.S. military exercises with South Korea in exchange for the North halting nuclear development. She says the U.S. rejects any “moral equivalency” implied by that proposal.

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2:20 p.m.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he urged his North Korean counterpart to abide by U.N. resolutions and stop provoking “the international community’s goodwill” with missile launches and nuclear tests.

Wang spoke to reporters in Manila after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of a…

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