Thai PM says no trade with North Korea, ahead of U.S. envoy's visit

BANGKOK (Reuters) - No trade takes place between Thailand and North Korea, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday, ahead of an expected visit by a U.S. envoy seeking to step up pressure on North Korea over its weapons programs.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attends the opening session of the 20th ASEAN-JAPAN Summit in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The United States has been urging Southeast Asian countries to do more to cut funding streams for North Korea as tension mounts over its development of nuclear weapons and missiles to carry them as far as the United States.

“Thailand guarantees ... that we have abided by the United Nations resolutions,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters at his official Government House offices.

“There have been reports about North Korean boats in our waters ... I prohibited them a long time ago. There is no trade ... there is no commerce,” he said.

Joseph Yun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, is due in Bangkok this week to discuss stepping up pressure on North Korea which has been pressing ahead with its weapons tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions and sanctions.

During a visit to Bangkok in August, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed Thailand, the United States’ oldest ally in Asia, for more action on North Korea.

At the time, the United States said it believed North Korean companies were active in Thailand and said it was encouraging the Thailand to close them.

Following Tillerson’s visit, Thailand’s foreign ministry said trade with North Korea had dropped by as much as 94 percent over the previous year. It did not give any more detail.

North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile late last month.

The U.N. Security Council is due to hold a ministerial meeting on North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs on Friday.

Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Robert Birsel