China insisted Thursday it was abiding by UN sanctions on North Korea despite a jump in its trade with the nuclear-armed nation that comes amid growing United States calls for Beijing to rein in its neighbour.
Notably, China Customs said its first-half coal and iron ore imports from North Korea were in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. But it is especially anxious about the collapse of the regime with which it shares a border, and fears both an influx of millions of North Korean refugees and the possibility of a unified Korea with USA troops again at the Yalu River. The last government-level talks were held in December 2015. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.
South Korea has offered to talk with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s.
The offer of talks, the first since South Korea elected dovish President Moon Jae-In, came as the Red Cross in Seoul proposed a separate meeting to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Earlier this month, Mr Moon reiterated he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if conditions are met.
The vice defence minister did not elaborate on the meaning of hostile military activities, which varies between the two Koreas. South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts by both sides, while the North wants a halt to routine joint U.S. President Moon vowed to push for cultural and personnel exchanges between the two sides regardless of political situations.
The sanctions are meant to apply meaningful pressure on a government which is all but single-handedly propping up a regime that threatens South Korea, Japan, and the United States with nuclear destruction.
Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South past year after leaving a restaurant run by the North in China.
North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group chose to defect of its own free will.
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior US officials said.