- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

BEIJING (AP) - China on Sunday began a suspension of all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year as it increases pressure on its communist neighbor to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The ban is in line with U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed in November in response to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test two months earlier, the Commerce Ministry said in an online statement Saturday.

China had already banned coal imports from North Korea in April last year, but those restrictions allowed some imports for civilian use.

China is North Korea’s largest source of trade and aid and Sunday’s suspension will deprive Pyongyang of an important source of foreign currency.

Beijing has come under pressure from President Donald Trump to lean harder on Pyongyang, but Beijing says its influence is limited.

However, it has grown increasingly frustrated with North Korea’s defiance of U.N. demands that it end missile tests and development of nuclear weapons. North Korea launched its latest ballistic missile test a week ago.

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