North Korea on Monday condemned the UN Security Council's toughest sanctions so far over its missile tests and warned it would retaliate against the United States, which ratcheted up its condemnation of Pyongyang at Asia's largest security forum.

North Korea stressed it will not be rattled by the sanctions and vowed to push through with its nuclear weapons programme despite calls for it to return to the negotiating table to discuss
denuclearization, according to its Korean Central News Agency.

"We are ready to retaliate with far bigger actions to make the US pay a price for its violent crime against our country and people," the reclusive state said in a statement.

"If enemies believe that North Korea can be rattled by sanctions, it is nothing more than a delusion," it added.

"As long as the US sticks to its hostile policy and nuclear blackmailing, we will not budge an inch from our path toward strengthening our nuclear force," it said.

The statement was made as North Korea came under fire at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, where US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Pyongyang should signal it is prepared to resume talks by stopping its missile tests.

"The best signal that North Korea could send that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches," said Tillerson, who was in Manila to attend the regional security meeting with the Association of the South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

However, the top US diplomat said it was not a matter of stopping the launches by "a specific number of days or weeks."

"This is really about the spirit of these talks," he added. "And they can demonstrate that they are ready to sit in the spirit of finding their way forward in these talks by no longer conducting these missile tests."

Tillerson also discussed the need to ramp up international pressure on North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear weapons programmes in meetings with Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Tillerson, Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono "condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's unlawful pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme and unprecedented ballistic missile activity since last year."

These actions "clearly demonstrate that North Korea increasingly poses new levels of threat to regional stability and global security," the three ministers said in a joint statement.

They called on ASEAN "to maximize pressure on North Korea."

Tillerson later met with Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, where they underscored the important roles of China, Russia and ASEAN in pressuring North Korea, a Japanese official said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a de-escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula in a meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho.

Lavrov called for all parties in the Korean conflict to "show their utmost restraint" against using military force and conduct a "denuclearization" of the peninsula, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia and China have the relatively closest diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Ri reiterated Pyongyang's position that its nuclear weapons programme was an act of self-defence.

Ministers at the regional forum were expected to urge North Korea to "exercise self-restraint in the interest of maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the world," according to a draft statement.

The ministers were also expected to call on all parties involved in the issue "to allow space for the resumption of dialogue," the draft said.

On Sunday, Kang reiterated Seoul's call for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table when she briefly met Ri during a dinner for foreign ministers. But the North Korean minister felt the offer "lacks sincerity," a government official said.

US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In spoke by phone on Sunday about North Korea's "grave and growing direct threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world," according to a statement.

"Just completed call with President Moon of South Korea," Trump said on Twitter. "Very happy and impressed with 15-0 United Nations vote on North Korea sanctions."

Moon requested the call, a White House official said.

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sanctions that are expected to cut one-third of North Korea's export revenues in response to two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

Related Story