US Secretary of State Tillerson in China to pile pressure on North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People on September 30, 2017 in Beijing. (Reuters)
Updated 30 September 2017

US Secretary of State Tillerson in China to pile pressure on North Korea

BEIJING: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday to discuss efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and prepare President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to China.
Tillerson was scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping after talks with top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, ahead of Trump’s trip in November.
The visit comes as relations between the two superpowers appear to be improving after months of tensions over how to handle North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear provocations.
Trump has repeatedly urged Xi to exert more economic pressure on Pyongyang to convince the renegade regime to give up its nuclear ambitions.
China, North Korea’s main trade partner, has responded by backing a slew of new United Nations sanctions.
For its part, Beijing has insisted that the sanctions must be coupled with efforts to organize peace talks, but Trump and Kim have traded increasingly personal insults that have raised fears that the crisis could spark a conflict.
The acting US assistant secretary for East Asia, Susan Thornton, told skeptical US lawmakers ahead of Tillerson’s trip that China appears to be on board with the plan to squeeze Pyongyang.
“We are working closely with China to execute this strategy and are clear-eyed in viewing the progress — growing, if uneven — that China has made on this front,” she said.
“We have recently seen Chinese authorities take additional actions,” she said, referring to new controls on the cross-border trade and finance that is North Korea’s economic lifeline.
On Thursday, China said it was ordering North Korean firms on its territory to close by January.
The announcement came days after China confirmed it will limit exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea from October 1 while banning imports of textiles from its neighbor.
The measures were in accordance with UN sanctions that were approved earlier in September after North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb — a test that triggered an earthquake felt across the border in China.
Trump’s November trip will be part of a tour that will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.


Mexico confirms first three cases of coronavirus, linked to Italy

Updated 28 min 1 sec ago

Mexico confirms first three cases of coronavirus, linked to Italy

  • The three men are believed to have visited northern Italy
  • Two more suspected cases are under analysis in the central state of Guanajuato and one in northwestern Durango

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s health ministry said the country has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus, becoming the second Latin American nation reached by the global outbreak.
The three men — two in Mexico City and one in the northern state of Sinaloa — are all believed to have visited northern Italy, the epicenter of the virus in Europe.
“Probably all three were infected from the same source. All three are imported cases,” Jose Luis Alomia, general director of epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, said at a press conference Friday.
Senior health ministry official Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a separate news conference that one of the men, a 35-year-old in the capital, “has a mild, mild illness” with symptoms “similar to that of a cold.”
“He is a young individual and so he is at very low risk,” he said.
The patient and five members of his family have been isolated at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Lopez-Gatell added.
The second case, a 41-year-old man who returned from Bergamo in Italy, is in isolation at a hotel in Sinaloa after being tested by regional authorities, officials said.
A 59-year-old man in Mexico City who also visited northern Italy is the third case but authorities did not say whether he had been hospitalized.
Italy has recorded 650 cases of the coronavirus and 17 deaths across cities in the north.
In Mexico, two more, suspected cases are under analysis in the central state of Guanajuato and one in northwestern Durango.
“It is not a national or health emergency,” Lopez-Gatell said, urging Mexicans to remain calm and not panic-buy protective items such as masks.
Mexico is the second Latin American nation to confirm coronavirus infections after Brazil said it had a case on Wednesday.
More than 50 countries have now reported cases worldwide.
The virus has infected more than 85,000 people and over 2,900 have died — mostly in China where the epidemic started.