Thursday, 13 December, 2018


South Korea walks back on possibly lifting sanctions on North

South Korea walks back on possibly lifting sanctions on North South Korea walks back on possibly lifting sanctions on North
Bennie Garza | 11 October, 2018, 21:37

China and Russian Federation have backed easing sanctions on Pyongyang "at an appropriate time", as South Korea's foreign minister said Seoul was mulling lifting its own measures, threatening cracks in global restrictions on the nuclear-armed North.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a parliamentary audit on Thursday there has been no serious consideration given to lifting the sanctions and that doing so would be hard unless North Korea acknowledges responsibility for the 2010 attack.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis will be invited to Pyongyang, North Korea to meet with Dictator Kim Jong Un.

A move by South Korea to lift its unilateral sanctions would have little immediate effect since US -led global sanctions remain in place.

The Trump administration appears concerned that the two leaders are getting too friendly as it seeks to wring further concessions out of Kim - specifically, the irreversible dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Last time Pompeo went to North Korea, Kim ditched him and instead toured a potato farm.

In a rare sign of discord between Seoul and Washington, Kang said on Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had expressed "discontent" with an inter-Korean military pact reached during a summit last month. "As negotiations continue to improve ties between the South and North and achieve denuclearization, there's a need to flexibly review (lifting the measures) as long as it doesn't damage the larger framework of sanctions against the North".

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha takes an oath during a parliamentary audit of her ministry's affairs at its headquarters in Seoul on October 10, 2018. Pompeo recently visited Kim in Pyongyang in an effort to set up another summit between him and Trump following months of friction in lower-level talks that saw North Korea accuse Washington of "gangster-like" demands on denuclearization.

Kang indicated that the government is considering the removal of the May 24 Measure largely as a symbolic step meant to help improve the Seoul-Pyongyang relations.

The law is needed to deal with cases of North Korea espionage in the South, Jeon said, adding North Korea's laws allow human rights violations to take place. An editorial titled "Kang flubs it" described her comments as "shortsighted" and said the paper was "dumbfounded" by her remarks.

One source close to the Foreign Ministry said, "You wouldn't have got this response if there had been prior consultations between the USA and South Korea". Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.

The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese embassy in North Korea sent floral baskets to the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea on Wednesday to congratulate the latter on its 73rd anniversary, according to North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.

But increasingly North Korean ships have been spotted at foreign harbours, which the United Nations sanctions forbid.

As part of his delegation to Pyongyang, Pompeo brought along Stephen Biegun, his special representative to North Korea and the diplomat expected to take on more of the day-to-day negotiating with Kim's regime.

During Moon's visit to North Korea last month, he and Kim agreed to normalize operations at the Kaesong factory park and resume joint tours to North Korea when possible, voicing optimism that worldwide sanctions could end and allow such projects.

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