On Thursday, Russia and China opposed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s effort to mount a unified international pressure on North Korea.
During a United Nations meeting, Pompeo expressed frustration that some countries were violating sanctions on North Korea, which apart from President Donald Trump’s efforts at establishing a close personal relationship with Kim Jong-un, have been a significant part of the American strategy to get Pyongyang to denuclearize.
“It is imperative for members of the United Nations to take that to heart,” Pompeo said of the need to maintain pressure. “Enforcement of UN Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearization. The members of this council must set the example on that effort, and we must all hold each other accountable.”
However, Russia’s and China’s representatives responded to such a request by telling the U.S. that it needed to make some concessions in return or back off its push to keep sanctions in place.
The foreign minister of China applauded the U.S. engagement with North Korea and said it should offer Pyongyang something it had long been seeking – an official end to hostilities between the two countries.
“A timely declaration of an end of war … would help build basic trust, further facilitate denuclearization and put in place [conditions] for a final peace accord,” said Wang Yi. “In China’s view, a political and wise decision must be made.”
The Russian foreign minister, on his part, said efforts by North Korea to dismantle nuclear sites and stop missile testing should be followed by an easing of sanctions.
“It is unacceptable for sanctions against the DPRK to become an instrument of collective punishment,” said Sergei Lavrov. “Against a backdrop of readiness of Pyongyang to cooperate … it seems inappropriate and untimely when our Western partners have imposed a course of tightening sanctions against Pyongyang.”
Pompeo later said the United States and North Korea were “well into a diplomatic process and we want, indeed we hope, to see this through to a successful end.” He added that he would be traveling to “Pyongyang next month to meet with Chairman Kim and accelerate that process.”