US Pacific Commander: Military-backed diplomacy needed to deal with North Korea

China says will work with North Korea to boost ties as envoy visits

China says will work with North Korea to boost ties as envoy visits

It warned violators they can be fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (USD 74,000) or three times the value of the goods traded, or suffer a jail term of up to two years, or suffer both penalties, for the first offence.

"Although we do not have solid figures showing health conditions of North Korea, medical experts assume that parasite infection problems and serious health issues have been prevalent in the country", said Choi Min-ho, professor of the college of medicine at Seoul National University, according to the Guardian.

Dr Graham Ong-Webb, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said Singapore has been gradually registering its disapproval and tightening sanctions, while leaving "room for dialogue and a face-saving way out".

"We've already made clear that we would never take even one step back from a road to beefing up national nuclear power unless the United States hostile policy against us comes to an end", it added.

In September, Singapore issued a travel advisory urging citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to North Korea, where it does not have diplomatic representation. The 10-member bloc ranks among North Korea's major trading partners.

Singapore is North Korea's seventh largest trading partner.

Those drills were slammed by North Korea's ambassador Ja Song Nam, who said in a letter to United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres this week that the current situation was "the worst ever" around the Korean peninsula. It is widely believed that Pyongyang orchestrated the assassination.

The Philippines has also suspended trade links.

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North Korea, which has stoked regional tensions with nuclear and missile tests in recent months, has repeatedly denounced such military drills as rehearsals for invasion and sometimes conducts its own military manoeuvres in response.

"My country will continue to build-up its self-defence capability, the pivot of which is nuclear forces and capability for a triumphant.strike as long as USA and hostile forces keep up nuclear threat and blackmail", he said.

However, in his Friday policy speech, he steered clear of giving any timeframe and has previously said he will move cautiously on the divisive issue.

The parasites, along with kernels of corn in his stomach, may confirm what many experts and previous defectors have described about the food and hygiene situation for many North Koreans.

Referring to observers who expressed surprise at Singapore's low-key move, Dr Ong-Webb said there was no need to trumpet the decision and that it was sufficient to let it "take root and speak for itself".

Pyongyang maintains a diplomatic presence in Singapore, with an embassy in its financial district.

North Koreans have been required to get a visa to enter Singapore since October previous year.

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