S. Korea con­sid­ers lift­ing some sanc­tions

Shanghai Daily - - TOP NEWS - (AP)

SOUTH Korea is con­sid­er­ing lift­ing some of its uni­lat­eral sanc­tions against the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea to cre­ate more mo­men­tum for diplo­macy aimed at im­prov­ing re­la­tions and de­fus­ing the nu­clear cri­sis, South Korean for­eign min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

Dur­ing a parliamentary au­dit of her min­istry, Kang Kyung-wha said the gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing whether to lift sanc­tions South Korea im­posed on the DPRK in 2010 fol­low­ing a deadly at­tack on a warship that killed 45 South Korean sailors.

South Korea then ef­fec­tively shut down all cross-bor­der eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion ex­cept for a jointly run fac­tory park in the DPRK bor­der town of Kaesong, which was shut­tered in Fe­bru­ary 2016 af­ter a DPRK nu­clear test and long-range rocket launch. The so-called “May 24 mea­sures” of 2010 also banned the DPRK from us­ing ship­ping lanes in South Korean ter­ri­tory.

A move by South Korea to lift its uni­lat­eral sanc­tions would have lit­tle im­me­di­ate ef­fect since the US-led in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions re­main in place. But it’s clear South Korea’s lib­eral gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to restart joint eco­nomic projects if the larger nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions between the United States and the DPRK be­gin yield­ing re­sults.

“Many parts of the May 24 mea­sures now du­pli­cate with the United Na­tions sanc­tions” against the DPRK, Kang said. “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.”

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in has de­scribed in­ter-Korean en­gage­ment as cru­cial to re­solv­ing the nu­clear stand­off. A large num­ber of South Korean busi­ness lead­ers ac­com­pa­nied Moon last month to Py­ongyang, where he and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un agreed to nor­mal­ize op­er­a­tions at the Kaesong fac­tory park and re­sume joint tours to the DPRK when pos­si­ble, voic­ing op­ti­mism the in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions could end and al­low such projects.

The neigh­bors also an­nounced mea­sures to re­duce con­ven­tional mil­i­tary threats, such as cre­at­ing buf­fer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the bor­der. The DPRK also said it would dis­man­tle its main nu­clear fa­cil­ity in Ny­ong­byon if the US takes un­spec­i­fied cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures.

As part of the agree­ments reached dur­ing Moon and Kim’s meet­ings, a li­ai­son of­fice between the coun­tries opened in Kaesong last month. Seoul’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry said on Tues­day that wa­ter be­ing sup­plied to the of­fice is be­ing pro­vided to the town’s res­i­dents as well.

Us­ing a fa­cil­ity that draws from a reser­voir near the fac­tory park, South Korea has been pump­ing 1,000 to 2,000 tons of wa­ter to the li­ai­son of­fice and about 15,000 tons to the rest of the city ev­ery day, min­istry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said. He said the re­sump­tion of the wa­ter sup­ply does not vi­o­late sanc­tions.

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