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China, Russia, North Korea call for adjusted sanctions ahead of denuclearization

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This story is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared on scmp.com on Oct. 10, 2018.

Chinese, Russian and North Korean deputy foreign ministers have met in Moscow to coordinate a trilateral approach to the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula, and called on the U.N. Security Council to “adjust” the current sanctions regime against Pyongyang.

This is in contrast to the Trump administration’s declaration that tough sanctions would remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization.

“It is time to start considering the adjustment of the U.N. Security Council’s sanction regime against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. The three parties also oppose unilateral sanctions,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday, a day after the working-level talks in Moscow.

China’s foreign affairs vice-minister, Kong Xuanyou, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Igor Morgulov and North Korea’s foreign vice-minister, Choe Son-hui, discussed the three countries’ cooperation during the denuclearization process.

China and Russia supported Pyongyang’s favored “phased and synchronized measures,” to ensure it receives compensation from the international community during the process, rather than waiting for complete denuclearization.

All parties concerned should maintain the momentum of dialogue and take corresponding measures to move in the same direction, the statement said. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not occur until after next month’s U.S. midterm elections.

Woo Jung-yeop, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said a friendly North Korea would enhance Chinese interests in the long-term.

“China is showing off its improving bilateral relations with the North … as China may now view North Korea as a strategic interest, not a strategic burden,” he said.

“The North Korean issue has become an important factor of the U.S.-China conflict.

“China is trying to influence the situation on the Korean peninsula, so that the US will need China’s help to solve the North Korean nuclear problem.”

“The three parties agreed that all issues on the Korean peninsula should be resolved through peaceful political diplomacy … The three parties also discussed the need to establish a peace mechanism on the peninsula through bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” the statement said.

Trump last month said that he and Kim Jong-un “fell in love” in recent months and called his relations with Kim a “great relationship”. He also said his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping may be over amid the worsening China-U.S. relations.

North Korean state media said Pyongyang officials had positive talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/10/china-russia-north-korea-sanctions-891640