Published: Sat, July 13, 2019

USA mulls sanctions relief for N. Korea nuclear freeze - Yonhap

USA mulls sanctions relief for N. Korea nuclear freeze - Yonhap

North Korea has accused the USA of being "more and more hell bent" on hostile acts and sabotaging peace with sanctions just three days after leaders from both nations held a historic third meeting.

An anonymous source has told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency that when talks begin, the White House will propose a plan to lift some sanctions for 12 to 18 months in exchange for North Korea's shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

The US and the other countries asserted that the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, or DPRK, violated United Nations sanctions by importing far more than the annual limit of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products, which are key for its economy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in his recent meetings with Russian, Chinese and US counterparts, called for security guarantees, instead of the lifting of sanctions, in return for denuclearization, diplomatic sources said Friday. Their February summit ended without a deal as they failed to find common ground over Pyongyang's denuclearization steps and Washington's sanctions relief. Kim subsequently resumed tests of short-range ballistic missiles and warned that he would wait only until the end of the year for a change in the US position.

The statement said the United States and 23 other countries sent a letter to the UN Security Council committee monitoring sanctions on North Korea demanding urgent action 'under the absurd pretext of "excess in the amount of refined petroleum imported"'.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands before their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Tuesday "the contacts and the discussions are ongoing" with North Korea but offered no details.

The DMZ encounter, initiated by a spur-of-the-moment tweet by Trump that Kim said took him by surprise, showed a rapport between the two men but policy analysts said they appear no closer to narrowing the gap between US demands for denuclearisation and North Korea's demand for sanctions relief.

Xi briefed Trump on China's position on North Korea when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, according to Reuters.

"As the president has said, sanctions will stay on until the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea, the source said.

North Korea has frozen missile and nuclear bomb testing since 2017 but US officials believe it has expanded its arsenal by continuing to produce bomb fuel and missiles.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump said that Kim "was so happy to see me" during his hastily-arranged visit to the demilitarized zone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"You have a man that when I came into office all he was doing before under [former President Barack] Obama was testing nuclear weapons and blowing up mountains and now he's not doing it", the president said.

The State Department said this week Washington hoped to see a complete freeze in the North Korean nuclear program as the start of a process of denuclearization. That's a good thing, not a bad thing.

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