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Washington: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo warned Russia and China against violating North Korea sanctions as reports show Kim Jong Un has continued to advance his nuclear-weapons program.

At a meeting in Singapore with counterparts from dozens of nations, including Russia and China, Pompeo urged all governments to continue enforcing sanctions against North Korea. He noted reports that Russia and China were violating of United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting trade with North Korea, particularly transfers of petroleum and coal.

“We expect the Russians and all countries to abide by the Security Council resolutions," Pompeo told reporters. Any violation “would be something that America would take very seriously."

Since President Donald Trump met Kim in June, his administration has sought to show North Korea is moving toward giving up its nuclear weapons even as a steady stream of news reports say work is continuing on illicit programs. The mixed messages have undermined US attempts to pressure North Korea, which hasn’t committed to a specific timetable for giving up its weapons.

North Korea has continued to violate Security Council resolutions with illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum and coal, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing a confidential UN report. It also said North Korea was cooperating militarily with Syria and looking to sell weapons to Yemen’s Houthis.

Pompeo on Saturday called on nations to halt illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum destined for North Korea, while also noting reports that Russia was granting permits for North Korean guest workers and allowing joint ventures in violation of UN sanctions. A Washington Post report earlier this week said North Korea is building at least one and perhaps more liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Both China and Russia have denied violating sanctions, and said the UN should consider easing restrictions against North Korea after it suspended nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Russia’s ambassador to the UN on Friday denied that Moscow had skirted sanctions regarding labourers, Reuters reported, citing Interfax news agency.

Pompeo said that he hadn’t met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who is also attending the annual meetings in Singapore. The top US diplomat struck a positive tone on North Korea denuclearization even while noting that more work was needed.

“From my meetings here, the world is united in seeing this achieved," Pompeo told reporters. He added: “I’m optimistic that we will get this done in the timeline, and the world will celebrate what the UN Security Council has demanded."

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