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New U.S. bill hoped to teach N. Korea a lesson: vice FM

2016/02/17 22:03

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's No. 2 diplomat expressed hope Wednesday that a new U.S. sanctions bill targeting North Korea will help teach Pyongyang that its provocations come at a price, the Foreign Ministry said.

Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam made the remarks in a meeting with two U.S. Congress members -- Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va) and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) -- saying their visit as members of the House Armed Services Committee is very timely given the regional security landscape following North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, according to a press release by the ministry.

On Friday, the House of Representatives approved the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016 in a 408-2 vote, just two days after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation in a demonstration of bipartisan support for a tough response to Pyongyang for its Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 long-range rocket launch.

The legislation will take effect as soon as President Barack Obama signs it.

"Vice Minister Lim said he expects that the bill, through implementation of specific measures, will make clear to North Korea that provocations are followed by punishments," the ministry said.

Bodallo said she reaffirmed through her visit to South Korea that the two countries' alliance and joint defense posture remain strong, noting that they should maintain close coordination in response to the North's continued provocations and firmly respond to them together with the international community.

Wittman added that he hopes Congress' approval of the bill will help draw a strong sanctions resolution on Pyongyang from the U.N. Security Council.