Bolstered by a new United Nations resolution, the foreign ministers of South Korea and the USA on Sunday vowed to ensure a tighter enforcement of the sanctions and further step up pressure to dissuade North Korea from its nuclear and missile development.
The Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday. The document implies prohibition of imports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead and seafood from the Asian nation by the UN member states.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met here Sunday with counterparts from China, Russia, and a host of Asian countries as he sought to build momentum to isolate North Korea.
Tillerson is in Manila for a meeting of the 10-nation ASEAN regional bloc, but all eyes will be on his one-on-one talks with his counterparts from Washington's great power rivals, Russian Federation and China.
China delivered frank advice to North Korea, its outcast neighbour, telling Pyongyang to make a "smart decision" and stop conducting missile launches and nuclear tests.
Trump's administration has threatened military action if necessary to stop North Korea from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike the USA with a nuclear weapon. "They want stability. They don't want to bring about the possibility of state collapse in North Korea, they don't want refugees streaming across the border and the last thing they want is a unified Korean state that will be closely allied to the United States, which would likely happen". "We must be tough & decisive!" he wrote. "This pressure campaign, the sanctions - it's all about trying to convince the North Koreans that the best way forward is for them to come back to the table and talk", Thornton added.
Thornton says the USA wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen". Ri also said Pyongyang will "under no circumstances" negotiate anything to do with its nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
According to a new USA intelligence assessment reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday, North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold.
And if that wasn't clear enough, last month, the isolated Asian nation tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that experts say could reach USA shores, specifically Alaska.
Also on Saturday, ASEAN foreign ministers gathered in Manila issued a statement expressing grave concern over rising tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from long-range missile tests by North Korea that "seriously threaten" global peace and security.
At the ASEAN meeting, Tillerson also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines, their first encounter since new US sanctions on Russia were approved overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law grudgingly by Trump. It also prohibits countries from increasing the numbers of North Korean labourers now working overseas, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.
The army will complete its plans in mid-August, ready for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order, KCNA reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army.
"We're not going to give someone a specific number of days or weeks", Tillerson said.
About 35 percent of those surveyed by CBS News say they are confident in the president's ability to handle the North Korean situation.
Ri highlighted Pyongyang's fears of invasion by the USA, saying that only nuclear-armed countries have been safe from military actions by Washington.
"I'm not convinced China has made the judgment that the regime in North Korea is more harmful to Chinese interests than reforming or eliminating the regime", Lefkowitz told USA TODAY.
China urged restraint from the US and South Korea as well, calling on all sides to negotiate. But Wang also called on the United States to dial back the tension.
In fact, on his first day in Manila, Tillerson appeared to go out of his way to avoid crossing paths with Ri.