01 October, 2017
"We call on all countries to join us in cutting all trade and financial ties with North Korea", Acting Assistant Secretary Susan A. Thornton told a Senate committee on Thursday.
Thornton said that the success of this pressure strategy will depend on cooperation from global partners, especially Beijing.
"We are working closely with China to execute this strategy and are clear-eyed in viewing the progress growing, if uneven, that China has made on this front".
The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2270 on March 2, 2016, and Resolution 2321 on November 30 that year, following Pyongyang's fourth and fifth nuclear tests, capping North Korea's coal exports, considered the regime's largest source of revenue.
Companies and joint ventures with Chinese firms have 120 days to close from the September 11 adoption of United Nations resolution.
News of the coal purchases comes as President Trump is stepping up efforts to try to stifle trade between North Korea and other countries in order to pressure Kim to back down on his country's rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program.
A senior US official says that China is seen to be changing its policy on North Korea, noting that Beijing is making progress in enforcing sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is to meet with Chinese officials on Saturday in a trip that could be an opportunity to provide Beijing with clarification, regarding recent comments from U.S. President Donald Trump on North Korea.
Tillerson was scheduled to confer this weekend with President Xi Jinping, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who is the country's ranking diplomat, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China-U.S. ties have been strained by Trump's criticism of China's trade practices and by demands that Beijing do more on North Korea.
Tillerson's trip, from September 28 to 30, will also lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump's visit to China in November, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
Coal was one of North Korea's top exports to China, its main trading partner.
While backing United Nations sanctions, China, North Korea's main trading partner, opposes unilateral USA steps and has been anxious Washington might move to freeze its banks out of the global financial system unless they cut ties to Pyongyang.
If the young autocrat then tones down his war of words with a no less provocative Trump and halts his nuclear and missile tests, he might be drawn to the table to discuss disarmament. And Trump, a proponent of a muscular "America first" foreign policy, has sometimes chafed at having to consider Beijing's diplomatic sensitivities.