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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a door open for dialogue with North Korea on Monday, saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted a series of recent missile test launches.

But a Reuters reporter who visited Dandong, through which about three-quarters of China's trade with North Korea flows, was told by traders and fishermen that authorities tightened enforcement on seafood coming from North Korea on Saturday itself.

"We're curious. We want to see how they live", Xu Juan said on Thursday before crossing the Yalu River, which marks the border between the two countries. India, Pyongyang's third largest trading partner, is halting all trade apart from food and medicine. Only the foreign minister of the Philippines, the chair of this year's forum sat down with his North Korean counterpart, to convey the ASEAN nations' unanimous warning to North Korea.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering came a day after the United Nations imposed tough new sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs and less than a week after Tillerson vowed that the US has no intention of overthrowing the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un.

And Washington isn't done turning up the heat.

Susan Thornton is the top US diplomat for Asia.

Tillerson did meet with top diplomats from South Korea and China on Sunday and seemed to get a long-awaited boost from Beijing in exerting pressure on North Korea, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly admonished North Korea to abide by the new sanctions.

"We'll continue to explore this and continue to, I think, push the organization to think about what kinds of suspension measures or requirements or stipulations might be included in the future", Thornton said.

In their first meeting since Kono took up his new post in last week's Cabinet reshuffle, he and Tillerson agreed to hold the next round of four-way security talks between their foreign and defense ministers "at an early date", according to the Japanese official.

Tillerson will keep hammering that message in his smaller ASEAN meetings, too.

But Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday.

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A public version of this full-court press appeared in a July announcement that the USA would not, as had been expected, lift sanctions on Sudan. In return for a missile moratorium, Beijing and Moscow say the US should undertake to end "large-scale" military exercises with South Korea. "You're not gonna see the North Koreans stepping back and ceasing these tests".

On Aug. 2, the U.S. added sanctions on people or groups that do business with North Korean banks; buy metals, minerals or textiles from the country; sell it fuel, crude oil or gas; and engage in online business with the government, including online gambling sites it runs.

All this as the Trump administration continues to press leaders in Asia for more action against North Korea just days after the United Nations enacted its strongest sanctions yet against Pyongyang.

The Security Council has already imposed six rounds of sanctions that have failed to halt North Korea's drive to improve its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.

The one-two diplomatic punch from a hardline Trump administration apparently staggered China, who were used to the Obama administration's gentle approach to diplomacy.

But officials are sounding upbeat about the broader pressure campaign.

Lavrov told reporters that he and Tillerson agreed to preserve a diplomatic channel that Russian Federation had earlier suspended as a reaction to the sanctions, the Associated Press reported.

North Korea says its ICBMs are a legitimate means of defence. "And these are countries all around the world", Nauert added. At an emergency Security Council session at the beginning of July, Russia expressed doubt that the missile launched was, in fact, an ICBM, while both China and Russia rejected the idea of sanctions or military escalation.

But he has more work to do to convince the American people.

Asean's deadlock over the statement highlights China's growing influence on the grouping at a time of uncertainty over the new USA administration's security priorities and whether it will try to keep China's maritime activities in check.

"We can not do one and neglect the other".

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