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(2nd LD) China to 'strictly' implement new U.N. resolution on N. Korea

All Headlines 19:21 March 01, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES dateline; UPDATES with reports of a Seoul meeting between South Korea's unification minister and China's top negotiator in North Korea denuclearization talks in paras 9-13)

BEIJING/SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- China said Tuesday that it will "strictly" implement a new U.N. resolution slapping new sanctions on North Korea, as the U.N. Security Council is set to approve the resolution.

"China will strictly follow it if the resolution is passed," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters during a regular press briefing.

In New York on Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council is expected to pass a new resolution aimed at punishing North Korea for conducting its fourth nuclear test and firing off a long-range rocket. Both moves violated previous U.N. resolutions.

"It is necessary for the Security Council to adopt a new resolution to limit the progress of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs," Hong said.

The U.S.-drafted resolution calls for U.N. member states to limit imports of North Korean mineral resources, including coal and iron ore, although it does not prohibit other trade with North Korea.

The draft also bans aviation and rocket fuel supplies from going to North Korea, while requiring U.N. member states to inspect all cargo vessels suspected of carrying illicit items to and from the North.

Winning China's cooperation is key to ensuring the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions against North Korea because China accounts for nearly 90 percent of the North's foreign trade.

Still, China is unlikely to put crippling sanctions on North Korea because a sudden collapse of the regime could spark a refugee crisis at its border and lead to a pro-U.S., democratic Korea on its doorstep, analysts say.

Meanwhile, China's chief negotiator in the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North said his country will work closely with Seoul to fully implement any new U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

In a meeting in Seoul with Chinese diplomat Wu Dawei, South Korea's Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said, "Now is time to focus on pressuring North Korea so it will denuclearize."

Wu said the two countries must work together to implement new U.N. sanctions, according to the unification ministry.

The Chinese diplomat arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a five-day visit that has so far included talks with his South Korean counterpart Hwang Joon-kook and a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

The six-party talks involving both South and North Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the U.S. have been stalled since late 2008, a few months before Pyongyang said it was quitting them.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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