China limiting oil product exports to N.Korea

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On Wednesday, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that Chinese shipping companies were dodging the United Nations sanctions on oil sales to North Korea by registering ships in third countries.

China will stop exporting the products, if and when the volume approaches the limit.

Last month, South Korean authorities impounded the Lighthouse Winmore, a Hong Kong-flagged tanker suspected of transferring fuel to a North Korean ship while in global waters.

On Sunday, a South Korean customs official told Reuters that authorities had seized another ship, a Panama-flagged vessel, suspected of having transferred oil products to North Korea in violation of the sanctions. However, the Taiwanese suspect denies knowing that the recipient would be a North Korean ship.

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In a regular briefing, ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said the meeting will be led by Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's special representative for the Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs and his Chinese counterpart and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou.

The announcement was also made just as North Korea agreed to talks with South Korea over the upcoming Winter Olympics, a move viewed as either a diplomatic breakthrough, Pyongyang buckling under sanctions, a delaying tactic, or a plot to fragment the worldwide coalition aligned against North Korea's missile program, depending on the optimism level of the observer.

The Chinese commerce ministry said Beijing will limit exports of crude oil and refined petroleum to the North, and ban outright sales of steel and industrial machinery.