Next Summit With N. Korea's Kim to Be After Nov. US Elections

Clay Curtis
October 11, 2018

Trump said this week the USA had "made incredible progress" in dealing with North Korea, saying: "You've got no rockets flying".

South Korea imposed unilateral sanctions on the North in 2010 following an attack on a warship that killed 46 South Korean sailors, banning most bilateral trade and exchanges. The move would be largely symbolic because of tough USA and United Nations sanctions.

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.

Deputy foreign ministers of China, North Korea, and Russian Federation on Wednesday issued a joint communiqué reiterating the strong ties between the three nations and calling for a loosening of sanctions against the DPRK.

Trump and Kim signed a vague agreement in Singapore in June to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", but have so far struggled for a deal on the pace and sequence of steps to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, Kang said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure over an agreement reached between the rival Koreas last month to reduce conventional military threats between them.

The joint call for easing sanctions echoes similar statements from the three countries in recent months following frequent diplomatic consultations between the DPRK and its two closest allies this year.

South Korean conservatives reacted with anger as well, and Kang's ministry downplayed her comments later, saying in a statement that the government has yet to start a "full-fledged" review of sanctions, meaning no decision was imminent.

Trump has encouraged USA allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearises as part of what his administration has termed a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Kim Jong-Un's government. Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.

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"Well, they won't do it without our approval", Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the removal of such sanctions wouldn't be enough to get the tours back on, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon. The source added Pompeo "used strong language" in the phone call with Kang.

Kang's remarks generated smiles in other quarters.

One source close to the Foreign Ministry said, "You wouldn't have got this response if there had been prior consultations between the US and South Korea".

In her remarks to the Washington Post, Kang also differed with the U.S. view on the denuclearization process.

Pompeo has since made another trip to Pyongyang, this past Sunday, for a summit that was called to restart negotiations between the U.S. and the North.

The pair discussed ending the reclusive state's nuclear weapons program and hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang.

The denuclearization process, which looked so promising when Kim and Trump met in Singapore in June, is now looking stillborn.

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