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Regional powers call for pressure on N. Korea as it fires missile

All News 15:41 April 01, 2016

By Kim Kwang-tae

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. and Japanese counterparts agreed to keep pressure on North Korea over its nuclear aspirations, an official said, as Pyongyang launched a surface-to-air missile in the latest sign of defiance against the international community.

Park also agreed to closely cooperate with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the enforcement of the toughest-ever sanctions resolution on North Korea over its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

The resolution calls for, among other things, the mandatory inspection of all cargo going into and out of the North, and a ban on the country's exports of coal and other mineral resources to cut off North Korea's access to hard currency.

"I warn once again that the international community will by no means condone North Korea's provocation, and that should it choose to undertake yet another provocation, it is certain to find itself facing even tougher sanctions and isolation," Park said Thursday at the trilateral summit, apparently referring to North Korea's possible nuclear test.

South Korea believes the North could conduct a fifth nuclear test at any time.

Obama called for the international community to vigilantly enforce the strong U.N. sanctions.

"We are united in our efforts to deter and defend against North Korean provocations," Obama said. "We recognize that our security is linked, that we have to work together to meet this challenge."

In a separate meeting with Park, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to fully enforce the resolution, South Korea's presidential office said, in the latest pressure from the North's last major ally and economic benefactor.

China has voted in favor of the resolution and vowed to implement it, a departure from its previous reluctance to put pressure on the North out of concern that strong sanctions could destabilize North Korea.

"Xi said China will completely and fully enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution," Cheong Wa Dae, the South Korea's presidential office, said late Thursday of the summit held on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

Still, North Korea displayed a show of defiance against the mounting pressure by test-firing an anti-aircraft missile into waters off its east coast earlier in the day.

The North has fired off several short-range projectiles and ballistic missiles since March in protest against growing international pressure and ongoing joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises.

Separately, the North is continuing to jam GPS signals in South Korea in yet another provocative move.

Park also said she agreed with Obama and Abe to strengthen efforts to improve the dismal human rights situation in North Korea.

Obama said that the three countries will work closely together to promote "opportunities and prosperity for the North Korean people who have been suffering so severely because of human rights abuses in North Korea."

In December, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution for the second consecutive year that calls for referring the North to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

North Korea has long been accused of grave human rights abuses, ranging from holding political prisoners in concentration camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, the North has denied any rights abuses, describing the accusations as a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

Park also said she agreed with Obama and Abe to strengthen cooperation on climate change, counterterrorism, health care and other global issues.

Park said she expects South Korea, the U.S. and Japan to expand cooperation in eliminating cancers as she welcomed the U.S. anti-cancer initiative.

In February, the White House announced a new US$1 billion initiative to identify ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.


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