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(News Focus) N. Korea remains defiant to mounting pressure to stop provocations

2017/08/08 00:10

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By Koh Byung-joon

MANILA, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea faced pressure from all sides including ally China over its recent missile tests at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday but remained unfazed, vowing to beef up its arsenal and rebuffing any negotiations on its nuclear programs.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said in his speech at the ASEAN Regional Forum that it won't abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and ruled out any negotiations unless the United States gives up its hostile policy toward its regime.

"We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table," Ri told Asia Pacific foreign ministers attending the ARF.

"Neither shall we flinch an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the DPRK are fundamentally eliminated," he added.

The ARF is among the few multilateral diplomatic meetings attended by North Korea.

This year's meeting comes after the North conducted two intercontinental missile tests on July 4 and July 28, sparking strong condemnation from the international community. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council adopted a fresh resolution against the North aimed at slashing its exports revenue by a third.

North Korea reacted with harsh words. Its government issued an official statement earlier in the day condemning the sanctions and threatening retaliation.

"We are ready to respond with far bigger actions to make the U.S. pay a price for its violent crime against our country and people," it said, vowing to take "stern action of justice."

   The harsh response came in the face of its deepening isolation.

China, its biggest trade partner, and Russia joined the U.S. and other countries in adopting the latest UNSC resolution.

In a meeting with Ri on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly urged Pyongyang to stop provocations.

ASEAN member states, all of which maintain diplomatic ties with the North, joined the global condemnation.

In a rare move, foreign ministers of the 10-member ASEAN issued a statement on Saturday -- one day before Ri came to Manila -- expressing "grave concerns" over the escalation of tensions caused by the North.

North Korea also made it clear that it is not interested in talks with South Korea.

Since taking office in May, the liberal Moon Jae-in government has said it will push for both negotiations and pressure in dealing with the North's nuclear problem.

Last month, South Korea proposed military talks to ease tensions across the border and a Red Cross meeting to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The North has not responded to the overtures.

In a brief encounter with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at a dinner on Sunday, Ri said that the offer lacks "sincerity" apparently. Ri repeated that message in his ARF speech.

"I will not take the trouble to mention the Japanese and South Korean authorities who regard kowtowing blindly to the U.S. as their mode of existence," he said.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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