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Japan, U.S., S. Korea eye increased pressure on N. Korea

The leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea started
a meeting Thursday at which they are expected to affirm trilateral
coordination in stepping up pressure on North Korea to curb its
development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

They are also likely to urge China and Russia to tighten the
screws on the North after Pyongyang test-launched Tuesday an
intercontinental ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching
parts of the United States, a development U.S. President Donald Trump
earlier said "won't happen."

Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South
Korean President Moon Jae In on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of
the Group of 20 major economies starting Friday in Hamburg, Germany,
in the first trilateral summit since Trump and Moon took office in
January and May, respectively.

The three leaders gathered as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
said his regime will never abandon nuclear weapons and will continue
to send the United States more "gift packages" of missile and nuclear
tests in what he described as self-defense measures.

North Korea's launch of a first ICBM marked a major step forward
in its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike as far
as the U.S. mainland. Analysts say the flight details suggest the
missile is capable of reaching the U.S. state of Alaska, representing
a potentially major shift in the security landscape.

Kim urged officials and scientists to "frequently send big and
small 'gift packages' to the Yankees" and said he will push ahead
with bolstering the North's nuclear force "unless the U.S. hostile
policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated," the
official Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday.

DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea, North Korea's formal name.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday, Abe said he will
strongly assert at the G-20 summit "the need for the international
community to closely coordinate in dealing with North Korea, the
threat from which increased with yesterday's ballistic missile

In telephone talks after the ICBM test, nuclear envoys from
Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed that "now is not the
time for seeking dialogue with North Korea but applying pressure on
the country," according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Pyongyang's latest provocation represented yet another violation
of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning it from conducting
nuclear and missile activities.

The three leaders are expected Thursday to urge China, the main
economic and diplomatic benefactor of North Korea, to tighten
sanctions on Pyongyang in addition to the imposition of a coal import

China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea's trade and
is a major supplier of oil for the country. But in the eyes of
Washington, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as many other countries, Beijing
has been reluctant to use its influence and economic leverage on
Pyongyang to force it to change its behavior.

Diplomats say China has not been fully enforcing U.N. sanctions
on North Korea and has resisted tougher measures such as an oil
embargo, bans on North Korean guest workers, as well as sanctions on
Chinese banks and companies doing business with the country.

In an expression of his frustration about China's dealings with
its defiant neighbor, Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, "Perhaps
China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once
and for all!"

On Wednesday, Trump posted another tweet, "Trade between China
and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much
for China working with us -- but we had to give it a try!"

However, China apparently has been reluctant to impose strong
pressure on North Korea, fearing any instability in the regime could
see a wave of refugees flood into northeastern China and result in
the loss of a strategic "buffer zone" from South Korea, a U.S. ally.

China instead has called on countries involved to exercise
restraint and resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through
negotiations. (July 6)