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U.S. hails China's reduction of trade with N. Korea

2018/01/13 05:48

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Friday hailed the reduction of trade between China and North Korea, saying it supports global efforts to end the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

China is North Korea's only major ally and economic benefactor, accounting for some 90 percent of the regime's external trade. Beijing has come under growing pressure from Washington to use its influence to stop Pyongyang's weapons development.

On Friday, China reported a 50 percent decrease in trade with North Korea in December, according to news reports, indicating the effect of recent United Nations sanctions against the regime.

"The Donald J. Trump Administration is pleased that China is sharply reducing its trade with North Korea," the White House said in a statement. "This action supports the United States-led global effort to apply maximum pressure until the North Korean regime ends its illicit programs, changes its behavior, and moves toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

   Tensions sharply escalated last year as Pyongyang tested its sixth nuclear weapon and three intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the mainland U.S.

The two Koreas held their first high-level talks in more than two years this week, leading some to expect an easing of tensions ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month.

Trump then said he is open to holding talks with Pyongyang when the conditions are right