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(LEAD) Trump adviser calls for 'secondary boycott' sanctions on China firms over N. Korea: S. Korean lawmaker

2016/11/16 12:45

(ATTN: CHANGES slug, headline; UPDATES in paras 1-11, 16 with details of meetings)

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States should impose "secondary boycott" sanctions on Chinese financial institutions for doing business with North Korea, a senior member of the transition team of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Former Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, considered a key policy expert in the transition team, made the remark during a meeting with a bipartisan group of South Korean lawmakers, according to Rep. Na Kyung-won of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Feulner's remark suggests the U.S. is expected to intensify pressure on China. That's also in line with Trump's stance on how to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. He has said that he would pressure Beijing to exercise more of its influence over Pyongyang because it is basically China's problem to fix.

Feulner also strongly reaffirmed the alliance with South Korea, Na said.

"While stressing that there is no daylight in the alliance between the two countries, he said that there is no difference in the positions of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party or between the ruling party and the opposition party," she said.

The five-member delegation, led by Rep. Chung Dong-young of the opposition People's Party, has been on a visit to the U.S. since Monday on a mission to connect with the Trump administration. Their trip includes a series of meetings with lawmakers and experts with ties to Trump.

The delegation also included Reps. Choung Byoung-gug of the Saenuri Party, Kim Boo-Kyum of the main opposition Minjoo Party and Cho Bae-sook of the People's Party.

On Monday, the team met in New York with Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, who is considered a top foreign policy adviser to Trump. On Tuesday, they met in Washington with Feulner; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO); former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton; and Bill Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

All have expressed strong opposition to the idea of South Korea developing its own nuclear weapons, Choung said. In particular, Feulner said the South doesn't need nuclear weapons because the U.S. can maintain strong deterrence by deploying "dual-capable aircraft" that can carry either nuclear or conventional weapons, according to Choung.

Such deployment would also keep the North on constant alert, Feulner was quoted as saying.

According to Choung, Bolton told the lawmakers that it would be difficult for the Trump administration to change the basic direction in security policy, but warned that the new government could "take action" on economic and trade issues.

Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, said the U.S. is firmly committed to the alliance with South Korea. He also sought to dispel worries that the Trump administration could have negative effects on the alliance between the two countries.

"It's very important for the people of the ROK to understand that our system of government is both a president as well as a Congress. The two of us working together at the US Senate plays a particularly important role in the foreign policy of this country," Gardner said.

"No one person has ultimate control or authority over the direction of the policy. That's something that the president and the U.S. Senate, the Congress work together upon. We have opportunities to grow in strength, to grow in prosperity, and obviously we're fully committed to making that happen," he said.

Delegation leader Chung said he expressed hope that the incoming U.S. administration will tackle the North Korean nuclear issue as a higher priority, and Gardner emphasized that the problem will be one of the top agenda items for the Trump administration.

The senator was quoted as saying that when he spoke with Vice President-elect Mike Pence as well as Trump's first White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Tuesday morning, he stressed that the North Korean nuclear issue should be dealt with as a top priority.

Choung of the Saenuri Party said he also called for greater U.S. efforts to resolve the nuclear issue while pointing out that a growing number of South Koreas express support for the country's own nuclear armament to cope with the nuclear and missile threats from the North.

Na quoted Gardner as saying that Trump's suggestion of allowing South Korea and Japan to develop their own nuclear weapons for self-defense should not be taken as it is. Earlier this week, Trump also denied he ever made such a suggestion.

Meanwhile, Haas told the delegation Monday it's not even worth consideration to allow South Korea to go nuclear as it runs counter to U.S. interests, according to the lawmakers. The CFR president also said that there shouldn't be any daylight in relations between the U.S. and South Korea.

Haas said a CFR report on North Korea policy has been submitted to the Trump team, and it would take about six months to review the report, according to participants. He was also quoted as saying that there is no consensus with regard to the North Korea issue.