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EU raises prospect of new sanctions against NKorea

© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File | North Korea test-fires an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, 2017


European Union member states agreed Monday to consider imposing new sanctions on North Korea after it tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

Last month, the EU expanded its sanctions blacklist after North Korea launched a volley of surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast.

The European Council, which groups the 28 EU member states, on Monday condemned the July 4 launch as an "outright violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.

"The Council will consider further appropriate responses in close consultation with key partners and in line with UN Security Council deliberations, notably through additional autonomous restrictive measures," it said in a statement during talks among EU foreign ministers.

Autonomous restrictive measures amount to sanctions separate from those called for by the UN Security Council.

EU sanctions against North Korea date back to 2006 and are part of international efforts to halt a nuclear and ballistic missile programme that experts say is intended to give Pyongyang the capability to hit the US mainland.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the foreign ministers are looking to "facilitate a solution that in our view cannot be but a diplomatic and political one."

The council also said it opposed a military solution to the North Korea problem and kept the door open to dialogue.

The ministers supported South Korea's diplomatic lead and urged North Korea to engage in a "credible and meaningful dialogue" to defuse tensions and denuclearise the peninsula.

South Korea on Monday offered to hold rare military talks with North Korea on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said more pressure must be put on Pyongyang, particularly from Beijing, its neighbour and main trade partner.

"The best way is to do that is put pressure on the Chinese. We are seeing progress there but a lot more has to be done," Johnson told reporters as he arrived for the talks with his counterparts.

© 2017 AFP