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Fuel prices in North Korea surge after China cuts oil sales

18 Julio 2017
Fuel prices in North Korea surge after China cuts oil sales

South Korea's defense ministry called Monday for formal talks with its northern neighbor to be held on July 21 at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the border town of Panmunjom where prior inter-Korea talks have been held.

Ties between the Koreas have plunged over the North's expanding missile and nuclear programs and the hard-line policies of Moon's conservative predecessors.

"The council urges the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to make credible progress on its obligations to denuclearise, enabling negotiations leading to a peaceful solution".

It's a tough task for the man who made headlines for helping to free American Otto Warmbier from North Korean detention last month.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., stated last Thursday the North Korean Enablers Accountability Act, would "ban any entity that does business with North Korea or its enablers...and to impose U.S. sanctions on all those participating on North Korean labor trafficking abuses".

Yun's first stop was in Singapore for talks at the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, a multilateral forum for discussing security issues.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung Gyon told a news briefing: "Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea's nuclear problem".

The North has conducted two nuclear tests since the beginning of last year and missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace.

The South also proposed separate talks by the rival states' Red Cross organizations to resume a humanitarian project to reunite families separated during the 1950 to 1953 Korean War in closely supervised events held over a few days.

Despite the North's aggression and increasingly belligerent noises from Washington, South Korea's President Moon Jae In has emphasised the importance of getting Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. A prolonged cut by China would threaten critical supplies of gasoline and diesel and force North Korea to find alternatives sources of refined fuel products.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said more pressure must be put on Pyongyang, particularly from Beijing, its neighbour and main trade partner.

The council's statement reaffirmed the EU's policy of "critical engagement" with Pyongyang, using sanctions and other measures while "keeping communication and dialogue channels open".

CNPC declined to comment on Monday when asked by Reuters if fuel sales to North Korea had resumed. The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 that was passed by the House contained a section proposed by Liz Cheney, representative for Wyoming, that describes a plan to strengthen the US's capability for expanded deterrence and defense commitments to allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Sudanese government responded to the recent decision by freezing talks with the United States on the sanctions issue until October, according to the state-run Sudan News Agency. If realised, they would be the first in two years.

But analysts say North Korea may accept the defense talks because it wants the South Korean army to halt loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that began after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.