Tillerson to chair North Korea Security Council meeting as US urges China to act


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea later this month, the US ambassador to the UN announced on Monday.

The April 28 meeting, Tillerson’s first ministerial visit to the UN, would be an important follow-up to talks between US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping this weekend, Ambassador Nikki Haley said. She added that China had a key role to play to force Pyongyang to change course.

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in New York (picture-alliance/Kyodo)

‘This administration wants to see [China] act’ on North Korea: Haley

“The only one that North Korea is going to respond to is China,” said Haley.

Ahead of the meeting in Florida this weekend, Trump has said he wants Xi to help denuclearize the reclusive northeast Asian nation, but added that the US could handle the problem without Beijing’s help.

Haley, speaking a news conference, said the focus of the Tillerson meeting would largely depend on the outcome of the Xi-Trump talks.

“The United States has seen China for 25-plus years say they are concerned about North Korea, but we haven’t seen them act like they are concerned about North Korea,” Haley said.

“I think this administration wants to see them act and I think they are going to pressure them to do that.”

Waiting on another missile test

Haley said she hoped the upcoming UN meeting would draw attendance from as many foreign ministers as possible.

“On any given day we’re waiting on another ballistic missile test [in North Korea],” she said, “Our goal is to say, what do we have to do to stop them?”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the ground jet test of a Korean-style high-thrust engine newly developed by the Academy of the National Defence Science (Reuters/KCNA)

North Korea has ratcheted up weapons tests, and experts fear a sixth nuclear test is imminent

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated in recent months, with the North accelerating its weapons development. It conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing. China supported the resolutions, but Haley said Beijing needs to fully implement the sanctions.

A US think tank reported last month that satellite imagery of North Korea’s main nuclear test site indicates that Pyongyang could be in the final stages of preparations for a sixth nuclear test.

After talks in Beijing with Tillerson last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue was between the US and North Korea. There had to be a commitment to using diplomatic means to peacefully settle the issue, Wang added.

aw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)