US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presents purported evidence of ship-to-ship oil transfers allegedly evading sanctions on North Korea. Photo: AFP / Martin H Simon

The Asahi Shimbun reports that Japan and the US are drawing up a new multilateral strategy that will focus on intercepting ships that violate international sanctions against North Korea.

Tokyo and Washington are said to be arranging a high-level multilateral meeting with Britain, South Korea, Australia and Singapore as part of the strategy. The goal is to expand maritime efforts to stop ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas that are bringing petroleum and other products into North Korea. The cargo transfers are allegedly being made by foreign-flagged ships to North Korean vessels. A date and venue for the meeting are yet to be decided.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly called his British counterpart, Theresa May, on February 26 and raised the issue of ship-to-ship transfers being used by North Korea to get around U.N. sanctions.

Asahi says France will also be invited to join the meeting because of its territories and military bases in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.