News ID: 239200
Published: 1018 GMT February 21, 2019

Trump vaguely offers sanctions relief for North Korea

Trump vaguely offers sanctions relief for North Korea

US President Donald Trump says he may offer North Korea relief from harsh sanctions provided that Pyongyang takes “meaningful” steps toward denuclearization, ahead of a meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

While Trump is yet to meet Kim for the summit — their second — in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on February 27-28, he also signaled during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday that he was already thinking of holding a third meeting with the North Korean leader too, reported.

The US president said he and Kim had made a lot of progress but “that doesn’t mean this will be the last meeting by any chance,” adding that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see something works out.”

Trump and Kim initially had an acrimonious relationship, calling each other names and threatening military action against their countries, but since their first meeting in June last year, that relationship has apparently changed.

Trump stressed on Wednesday that he now had “a good relationship” with the North Korean leader; and back in January, Kim stressed that he believed in Trump’s “positive way of thinking.”

Trump also said that he did not think Pyongyang was reluctant to denuclearize, even though North Korea has said it wants concrete reciprocal measures by the US before it proceeds with any more measures than it has already unilaterally taken toward denuclearization.

In their first meeting, Trump and Kim broadly agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But, while North Korea had already taken several measures to show its goodwill, subsequent diplomacy was sluggish as the US refused to offer sanctions relief.

Trump said such relief could be provided — on a condition that he only vaguely spoke about.

On Tuesday, Trump said that he had urged Pyongyang to “ultimately” terminate its nuclear program but added that he was pressing no time schedule for that scenario if the North stuck to a freeze in nuclear and ballistic missile testing that has been unilaterally in place since 2017.

Trump’s envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, is now in Hanoi to finalize preparations for the summit and is expected to hold talks with his counterpart Kim Hyok-Chol, who arrived in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Biegun held three days of talks in the North Korean capital. After he returned to the US, he said that the talks had been “productive” but also said that there was “hard work to do” before the Hanoi summit.

UN allows North Korean officials to travel to Vietnam

Separately on Wednesday, Reuters reported that Vietnam had requested the United Nations Security Council to grant North Korean officials — 12 of whom are subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze — an exemption to travel to Vietnam.

The Security Council sanctions committee approved the travel of a North Korean delegation to Hanoi for the summit and preparation but it was not clear if any of the 12 North Koreans would travel to Vietnam.

The White House insists that harsh UN and US sanctions must remain in place until Pyongyang completely abandons its nuclear program, while Kim wants them immediately lifted.

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