U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned members of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that they must "set the example" by enforcing sanctions on North Korea as China suggested the Council should consider easing the tough measures.
North Korean ally China, backed by Russia, said the Security Council should reward Pyongyang for the "positive developments" after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearisation.
Pompeo chaired a meeting of the 15-member council on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders after meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho on Wednesday. Pompeo plans to travel to Pyongyang next month to meet with Kim.
But until Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons programme, Pompeo said: "Enforcement of Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearisation."
"The members of the council must set the example on that effort," he said after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley earlier this month accused Russia of cheating on U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
The Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The Chinese government's top diplomat Wang Yi noted that there are provisions in Security Council resolutions for the body to modify sanctions if North Korea complies.
He said that "given the positive developments" China believed the Council "needs to consider invoking in due course this provision to encourage the DPRK and other relevant parties to move denuclearisation further ahead."
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