US Defense Secretery visits Hanoi, praises Vietnam’s leadership on North Korea sanctions

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised Vietnam on Wednesday for adhering to sanctions against North Korea, saying at the start of a two-day visit to Hanoi that its leadership on the issue came despite the costs associated with lost trade. “I have to pay my respects there and thank them for their support on the (North Korea) issue. They have been supporting the United Nations sanctions, at some cost to them,” Mattis told reporters before landing in Hanoi. “And so we appreciate their leadership on that, leading by example and stepping up.” North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting the United States has spurred deepening U.N. sanctions and stoked fears of a military conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the United States was getting evidence that sanctions were “really starting to hurt” North Korea, although there are no signs yet that they have altered Pyongyang’s military calculus. Vietnam and North Korea, at one time both within the influence of the former Soviet Union, maintain traditional diplomatic and political ties. But those relations have been tested in recent years, particularly following the alleged involvement of a Vietnamese citizen in the murder of Kim Jong Un’s half brother in 2017. In a report to the U.N. Security Council in April 2017, Vietnam said it had taken measures to implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea. Mattis said Vietnam was adhering to those sanctions and noted that cutting off trade with a country so close… [Read full story]

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