Trump, East Asian and Asean leaders seek 'maximum pressure' on North Korea

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media during the East Asia Summit in Manila on Nov 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA - United States President Donald Trump and other world leaders have sought to put "maximum pressure" on North Korea to compel it to stop its nuclear weapons development and get it to sit down for talks on de-escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula.

In a draft statement seen by reporters just before the East Asia Summit (EAS) here on Tuesday (Nov 14), Mr Trump and the leaders of Asean's 10 member states as well as seven other Asia-Pacific nations, including China, noted North Korea's nuclear weapons development, and urged all countries to fully implement United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang.

"We express grave concern over (North Korea's) ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles technologies, which are in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions", according to the draft.

They urged North Korea "to immediately and fully comply with all relevant… resolutions and underlined that all EAS members are committed to full and thorough implementation of (Security Council) resolutions on North Korea".

They demanded that Pyongyang "abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner".

In his remarks at the EAS, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore "strongly condemns recent provocations by the DPRK, including its recent nuclear test". He was using the acronym for North Korea's official name.

"These actions pose a severe threat to regional peace, security and stability. Any miscalculation will have very serious consequences," he said.

Mr Lee also urged Pyongyang "to desist from its provocations and abide by international obligations and commitments".

He said settling the crisis in the Korean peninsula will need "a combination of pressure and dialogue" among all parties concerned.

UN Security Council resolutions ban imports of coal, textiles and seafood from North Korea, and limit exports of crude oil and petroleum to the country. The sanctions also include calls on UN members not to grant work permits for North Korean workers.

Mr Trump skipped the plenary session of the summit because of scheduling delays, but he delivered his prepared remarks before he left. Diplomatic sources said Mr Trump had wanted to press China to do more in reining in North Korea.

China accounts for about 90 per cent of North Korea's total trade and is a major supplier of oil to the country. Beijing opposes Pyongyang's nuclear weapons development, but fears strong economic pressure could trigger a collapse and instability.

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