China, Rus­sia back eas­ing DPRK sanc­tions

Shanghai Daily - - TOP NEWS - (Agen­cies)

CHINA and Rus­sia have backed eas­ing sanc­tions on Py­ongyang “at an ap­pro­pri­ate time,” as South Korea’s for­eign min­is­ter said Seoul was mulling lift­ing its own mea­sures.

Py­ongyang is sanc­tioned un­der mul­ti­ple UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions over its weapons pro­grams and has re­peat­edly called for the mea­sures to be loos­ened, cit­ing a freeze in its nu­clear and mis­sile tests.

At three-way talks in Moscow, vice for­eign min­is­ters from the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, China and Rus­sia agreed “it is nec­es­sary to con­sider ad­just­ing sanc­tions on the DPRK by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil at an ap­pro­pri­ate time,” Chi­nese for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment.

In con­trast, the United States, which spear­headed global ef­forts to squeeze the DPRK econ­omy last year, has been adamant that the sanc­tions re­main in place un­til Py­ongyang’s “fi­nal, fully ver­i­fied de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.”

US ally Seoul has also mooted re­lax­ing its own uni­lat­eral mea­sures against Py­ongyang.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in fa­vors en­gage­ment with the DPRK and has dan­gled large in­vest­ment and joint cross-bor­der projects as in­cen­tives for steps to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

South Korea sus­pended most trade with the DPRK in 2010 fol­low­ing a DPRK tor­pedo at­tack on a South Korean war­ship that killed 46 sailors on board.

Py­ongyang has de­nied in­volve­ment.

“We are re­view­ing it with re­lated gov­ern­ment agen­cies,” South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha told par­lia­ment.

Kang later back­tracked, say­ing she had mis­spo­ken, and her min­istry said no ac­tive re­view was in place.

South Korea’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­is­ter Cho My­oung-gyon added yes­ter­day that there has been “no de­tailed re­view” on lift­ing sanc­tions but said Seoul has taken mea­sures for cross-bor­der co­op­er­a­tion “in a flex­i­ble man­ner.”

While ar­gu­ing that im­proved in­ter-Korean re­la­tions could pos­si­bly fa­cil­i­tate progress in larger nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the US and DPRK, Cho said Seoul isn’t ready yet to cam­paign for re­duced pres­sure against its neigh­bor.

“At the cur­rent stage, I think it’s a lit­tle early for us to call for the lift­ing or eas­ing of the UN sanc­tions,” Cho said.

In re­sponse to Kang’s re­marks, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said: “They won’t do it with­out our ap­proval. They do noth­ing with­out our ap­proval.”

Trump’s com­ments trig­gered heated de­bate in South Korea, with some law­mak­ers call­ing them an “in­sult.”

“‘Ap­proval’ is a strong and in­sult­ing word meant to say that we are pro­gress­ing too fast with the DPRK with­out seek­ing con­sen­sus with the United States,” said Kim Jae-kyung from an op­po­si­tion party.

Moon has vowed to honor the UN sanc­tions, but Seoul opened a joint li­ai­son of­fice in the DPRK bor­der city of Kaesong last month and has promised to pur­sue roads and rail projects be­tween the two coun­tries.

Last month, the DPRK’s for­eign min­is­ter told the United Na­tions there was “no way” his coun­try would dis­arm first as long as sanc­tions re­main in place.

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