G7 agrees to ramp up economic pressure on North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspects the January 18 General Machine Plant in Pyongyang in this undated photo. The UN Security Council voted unanimously in September to boost sanctions on North Korea, after the country conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test. (Reuters)
Updated 13 October 2017
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G7 agrees to ramp up economic pressure on North Korea

WASHINGTON: Group of Seven finance leaders agreed to co-operate in countering North Korean attempts to avert UN sanctions, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said on Thursday.
It is rare for G7 finance leaders to disclose they had met on the sidelines of a G20 gathering, which was a show of resolve among advanced economies to boost pressure on North Korea in the wake of its recent provocations, said Masatsugu Asakawa, Japan’s vice finance minister for international affairs.
“The G7 agreed on the need to apply maximum economic pressure on North Korea by cutting its revenue source and preventing it from abusing the global financial system,” Asakawa told reporters after attending the G7 gathering.
“We agreed to strengthen co-operation, including by (taking) steps to counter North Korean attempts to avert United Nations sanctions,” he said.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously in September to boost sanctions on North Korea, after the country conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test that month.
It was the ninth Security Council sanctions resolution over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs since 2006, highlighting the struggle the United Nations faces in containing North Korea.
Asakawa attended the usually informal meeting of G7 advanced economies and a dinner session of G20 major countries on behalf of Finance Minister Taro Aso.
At the G20 meeting, Asakawa said Japan explained premier Shinzo Abe’s pledge to keep up Tokyo’s efforts to restore fiscal health and achieve its budget-balance target.
The G20 meeting also discussed prospects for global growth and potential risks, including repercussions from an expected steady withdrawal of monetary stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, Asakawa said.
“There was talk of various spill-over effects as central banks of advanced economies normalize monetary policy, and a shared understanding that such effects were among risks to the global economy,” he said.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 3 min 24 sec ago
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.