China’s UN envoy says ‘no reason’ not to talk with North Korea

China’s UN ambassador said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to refuse dialogue with North Korea despite a series of ballistic missile tests that have been strongly condemned by the Security Council.

“There is no reason why dialogue is not taking place in the current situation,” Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters after a council meeting, adding: “It takes political will.”

The comments were directed at the United States, which has said it was willing to have a dialogue with North Korea if it halts its missile and nuclear tests.

“We don’t see why dialogue cannot take place in the current situation now,” Liu insisted.

He stressed that during previous efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, “every progress was achieved as a result of dialogue.”

The council met to discuss tightening sanctions on North Korea after it strongly condemned a missile launch on Sunday, the latest in a series this year as Pyongyang seeks to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

Asked about imposing new sanctions, the Chinese ambassador responded that “this was a hypothetical question” and added that the current sanctions must be applied “in a comprehensive way.”

The United States has for weeks been negotiating a new Security Council sanctions resolution with China, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said last week that no final draft text had been clinched.

“This is the same movie that keeps playing. He continues to test. We’ve got to do action,” Haley told MSNBC television on Monday.

In a unanimous statement, the council on Monday instructed the UN sanctions committee to redouble efforts to implement a series of tough measures adopted last year.

The council also agreed to “take further significant measures including sanctions” to force North Korea to change course and end its “highly destabilizing behavior”.

“This is totally unacceptable,” said Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho after the council meeting.

“The international community must not leave this total defiance unanswered”, said Bessho.

“We hope we will be able to strengthen the sanctions mechanism.”

The Security Council adopted two sanctions resolutions last year to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang and deny leader Kim Jong-Un the hard currency needed to fund his military programs.

In all, six sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

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