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Australia, New Zealand deploy planes to enforce UN sanctions

This Feb. 16, 2018, file photo released by Japan's Ministry of Defense shows what it says is the North Korean-flagged tanker Yu Jong 2, bottom, and Min Ning De You 078 lying alongside the tanker in the East China Sea. (Japan's Ministry of Defense via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Australia and New Zealand said Friday they are sending three maritime patrol planes to Japan as part of the effort to enforce U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

Japan has been monitoring offshore ship-to-ship transfers of oil allegedly involving North Korean ships, which would violate U.N. sanctions imposed over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

New Zealand Defense Minister Ron Mark said in a statement it would coordinate efforts with partners to counter North Korean activities that breach sanctions, in particular ship-to-ship transfers.

Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said his country would deploy two Orion aircraft to put economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

"Australia continues to work with partners to enforce sanctions to pressure North Korea to take concrete and verifiable steps to denuclearize," Pyne said in a statement. "A stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific remains Australia's priority."

New Zealand will deploy one Orion plane.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said in a statement he welcomed the recent dialogue North Korea has had with the U.S. and South Korea, but said that until North Korea abides by its international obligations, it was essential to fully implement the U.N. Security Council sanctions.

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