Seoul Seeks New Talks With North Korea, Hoping To Tamp Down Tensions

Pic Reuters

In the first six months of this year, trade between China and North Korea increased 10.5 percent to $2.5 billion, compared to the same period last year, according to official figures from Beijing.

Scrutiny of China's commercial ties with its isolated neighbour intensified further following North Korea's first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile two weeks ago.

Last year, China shipped more than 96,000 tons of gasoline and almost 45,000 tons of diesel to the isolated communist state, worth a combined $64 million.

A policeman salutes at a junction featuring a portrait of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 11, 2012.

Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior USA officials said.

Autonomous restrictive measures amount to sanctions separate from those called for by the UN Security Council. "Trade related to DPRK people's livelihood, especially those that reflect humanitarianism should not be influenced by the sanctions", Huang said.

North Korea imports nearly all of its oil and gas from China; most of that comes through CNPC.

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At the same time, iron ore imports have surged between January and May to $74.4 million compared to $24 million over the same period previous year. "This is a time for pressure", Japan's foreign ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters in NY where Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was attending a United Nations meeting on development.

By comparison, imports of coal alone were worth $97.6 million just in the month of February. "My bipartisan legislation gives those that now conduct trade with North Korea a clear choice - either do business with this heinous outlaw regime or do business with the world's leading economic and military power".

A barbed-wire fence separating North Korea from China is seen in this photo taken from the Chinese border city of Hunchun, China, March 18, 2015. "We have to put pressure on China", he said.

Previous Chinese customs data showed two-way trade with the North had risen 30.6 percent in dollar terms in the first three months of the year.

The draft report says that the North's ballistic missile development has four characteristics: longer ranges, growing sophistication for a so-called saturation attack, pursuit of secrecy, and a wider variety of launch forms.

She told the Security Council last week that the United States planned a new resolution that would also ensure existing measures are enforced.

South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts by both sides, while the North wants a halt to routine joint US-South Korea military drills.

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