The Latest: US slaps new sanctions on NKorean, Chinese firms

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on the U.S. declaration of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism (all times local):

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2 p.m.

The United States has issued new sanctions on four Chinese trading companies and a Chinese national said to have conducted hundreds of millions of dollars in business with North Korea.

The Treasury Department also designated six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 vessels as part of its efforts to disrupt funding for the rogue nation's nuclear and missile programs.

Tuesday's action comes a day after the United States returned North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO'-shin) said in a statement that the U.S. is determined to "maximize pressure" to isolate North Korea from outside sources of trade and revenue.

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Those sanctioned are barred from holding U.S. assets or doing business with Americans.

A North Korean corporation was also designated for exporting laborers overseas.

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6:40 a.m.

The Chinese government has said it hopes countries would do more to bring North Korea and others back to talks instead of making tensions worse.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang is stopping short of criticizing the U.S. following its declaration of Pyongyang as a state sponsor of terrorism. Lu said Tuesday that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly sensitive and that it would be "helpful to bring all parties back to the negotiation table instead of doing the opposite."

Da Zhigang, a North Korea expert at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the U.S. move could trigger retaliation from North Korea.

Da says the move "will arouse diplomatic reactions and hatred toward the U.S. from North Korea" and could even prompt the North to resume missile tests.

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3:45 a.m.

Japan's leader has welcomed America's re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (SHIN'-zoh AH'-bay) tells reporters in Tokyo that Japan supports the move as a way to increase pressure on North Korea.

His statement Tuesday followed President Donald Trump's announcement in Washington that the U.S. is putting North Korea on America's terrorism blacklist. Trump said the designation is long overdue, and promised a new wave of sanctions as part of a maximum-pressure campaign.

Japan is increasingly nervous about North Korean advances in developing nuclear weapons. North Korea has sent missiles over Japan twice this year in tests into the Pacific.

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3:25 a.m.

The Trump administration is due to announce new sanctions on North Korea on Tuesday after declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism in the latest push to isolate the pariah nation.

North Korea on Monday joined Iran, Sudan and Syria on the terror blacklist, a largely symbolic step as the administration already has the authority to impose virtually any sanctions it wants on Kim Jong Un's government over its nuclear weapons development.

As part of its "maximum pressure" campaign, President Donald Trump said the Treasury Department would impose more sanctions on North Korea and "related persons" starting Tuesday, without hinting who or what would be targeted. It is part of rolling effort to deprive Pyongyang of funds for its nuclear and missile programs and leave it internationally isolated.

"It will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it's finished over a two-week period," Trump said.

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Associated Press Writer Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this story.