North Korea sanctions will remain, says US
US Secretary of State says sanctions will be removed once Pyongyang denuclearises completely
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un understands that denuclearisation must happen "quickly", but he warned there are still risks that peace will not be achieved and sanctions must be maintained for now. Washington remained committed to the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearisation of North Korea, Pompeo said, after the historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore drew criticism for its vague wording on plans for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
"We believe that Kim Jong Un understands the urgency... that we must do this quickly," he said of the effort to have North Korea abandon its atomic arsenal. Washington's top diplomat travelled to Seoul to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts about the summit, and later flew to Beijing to talk with Chinese officials. "We truly believe that we have a path forward after so many years that can bring peace," Pompeo told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. "There are still risks that we won't achieve that, but I truly do believe that the world set the conditions properly" at the summit, he said, after Trump said his "deal" with Kim Jong Un had ended the North Korean nuclear threat.
Any reduction in tensions on its doorstep is welcome for China, North Korea's closest ally, which accounts for around 90 percent of Pyongyang's trade. Beijing immediately hinted that the United Nations could consider lifting the punishing sanctions on North Korea that Trump credits with bringing Kim to the table. Wang told Pompeo the summit "moved the peninsula's nuclear issue into the right track of peace and negotiation in line with all parties including the US and China as well as the hopes of international society". Earlier, Pompeo insisted that there was no daylight among the allies on how to achieve the denuclearisation of North Korea.
Military drills 'suspended'
Large military drills between the United States and South Korea have been "suspended indefinitely," a senior US official said yesterday. "Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula," the official said, two days after President Donald Trump said the US would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul.
Trump downplays North Korea's abuses
US President Donald Trump downplayed abuses by Kim Jong Un's regime in an interview following his summit with the North Korean leader, saying that other countries had also done "bad things." He praised Kim as "a very smart guy" and "a great negotiator." According to Trump's own State Department, Kim's regime holds between 80,000 and 1,20,000 political prisoners in forced labour camps, facing torture and forced starvation.
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