Nuance is important as tensions are very high.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in Manila, Philippines. The primary topic on everyone’s mind is North Korea and the economic sanctions agreed upon yesterday as conveyed in the unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution.
Specifically, all conference participants are familiar with the (generally non-discussed) historic activity of China where they agree to sanctions then become willfully blind to violations of those sanctions; and essentially enable the DPRK to increase hostility.
During this visit U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is delivering a very severe message that U.S. President Donald Trump is well aware of all historic behavior, and President Trump is not going to allow willful blindness. It is a new era in economic consequence.
The ASEAN audiences at the conference appear accepting of the first-hand message and welcoming a new understanding that President Trump is not going to allow status quo. Here’s the play-by-play as captured by AP during the early part of the conference.
♦ 12:30 p.m. – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the approval of new U.N. sanctions targeting North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs is a “very good outcome.”
Tillerson is meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in the Philippines on the sidelines of a regional summit. Tillerson says he and the South Korean diplomat plan to discuss the sanctions during their meeting, along with next steps to pressure the North.
Kang is echoing Tillerson’s praise for the sanctions approved Saturday by the U.N. Security Council. She says it was a “very, very good outcome.” Kang is thanking the U.S. for consulting with South Korea on the sanctions. The meeting comes as the U.S. and Asian nations join together to try to step up Pyongyang’s economic and diplomatic isolation.
North Korean Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, poses with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for a photo prior to their bilateral meeting in the sideline of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its Dialogue Partners. Sunday, Aug. 6,
♦ 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 regional meeting after the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its escalating nuclear and missile programs.
Wang said the two had an intensive conversation during which China urged North Korea to maintain calm. He says he told Ri “do not violate the U.N. decision or provoke the international community’s goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests.”
Wang also urged the U.S. and South Korea “to stop increasing tensions” and said that all sides should return to negotiations.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, second from left, prepares for a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, second from right, in the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its Dialogue Partners Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 [**Notice China has all the pencils**… /sd]
♦ 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.