The foreign ministers of Russia and the United Arab Emirates urged North Korea on Tuesday to stop its provocations and obey United Nations resolutions, after Pyongyang’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the two ministers offered a forceful warning for Pyongyang, with Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan particularly calling for North Korea to stop its “provocations.”
But what was left unsaid between the two ministers was their own diplomatic and commercial ties to North Korea, with the UAE in particular home to thousands of its workers whose wages help Pyongyang avoid international sanctions.
Early Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its capital that flew over Japan before crashing into the northern Pacific Ocean.
The missile, which traveled some 2,700 kilometers (1,677 miles) on its trip over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, appeared to be the first to cross over Japan. It sparked new fears about a confrontation between Pyongyang and America’s Asian allies in the region, especially as U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line against the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is visiting the UAE as part of a three Gulf Arab nation tour over the ongoing diplomatic crisis involving Qatar, avoided discussing that dispute. He instead focused in part on North Korea.
“Regarding North Korea and the missile tests it is conducting, we stick to the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and we insist on the fact that our North Korean neighbors should fully respect those resolutions,” Lavrov said. “We base our position on these statements during discussions in the Security Council and will do the same in the session, which as far as we understand is being planned now and which will be dedicated to discussing the last missile launches from North Korea.”
Sheikh Abdullah went further.
“The situation cannot continue to escalate between North Korea on one side and Japan and South Korea on the other,” he said. “North Korea cannot continue to disregard the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the U.N.’s call to stop its provocations.”
The remarks by the two, however, did not mention their countries’ commercial ties to Pyongyang.
A 2015 U.N. report suggested that the more than 50,000 North Koreans working overseas earned Pyongyang between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year. Other estimates put earnings in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The major markets for North Korean workers are China and Russia, but the Gulf also hosts thousands. In the UAE, Pyongyang also has at three restaurants it uses to earn hard currency while some 1,500 North Koreans work in the country, according to two officials who told The Associated Press that more may be coming.
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