|Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono|
NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called Thursday for all countries that maintain diplomatic and economic ties with North Korea to sever them in a unified response to Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
"Now is the time for the international community as a whole to maximize the pressure on North Korea to take concrete actions toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Kono said in a speech to students at Columbia University in New York after several days of meetings during the U.N. General Assembly's general debate week.
"Can you believe that over 160 countries have diplomatic ties with North Korea, the biggest threat to the world right now?" he asked during the speech, a few hours after discussing the North Korea issue in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
He said too many countries also maintain economic ties with the North, including by accepting its migrant workers, a target of the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution adopted in response to the Sept. 3 nuclear test.
"We must work together with countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to get rid of the 'loopholes' in the sanctions," Kono said.
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