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Trump reiterates that sanctions on North will stay for now

Oct 16,2018
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated that he is not yet prepared to ease sanctions on North Korea, rebuffing Pyongyang’s call for some form of relief.

“No, I’m not doing it,” Trump told Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes,” concerning the North’s request for sanctions relief. “This isn’t the Obama administration. I haven’t eased the sanctions.”

U.S. State Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang Oct. 7 for talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, declaring there has been “progress,” but the two sides have yet to announce follow-up working-level talks where more details toward denuclearization steps would be discussed. Washington has been calling for a “final, fully verified denuclearization” before there is sanctions relief on the North while Pyongyang, with the backing of Moscow and Beijing, wants a phased rollback of sanctions meant to curb its nuclear and missiles program.

Trump noted that Kim Jong-un “doesn’t want to go to war, and we don’t want to go to war, and he understands denuclearization and he’s agreed to it. And you see that, he’s agreed to it.”

Despite Stahl calling Kim “a bad guy,” Trump once more confessed his self-professed love for Kim. “Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him.”

When reminded of North Korea’s dismal human rights record, Trump replied, “I’m not a baby. I know these things.”

He said, “I trust him. That doesn’t mean I can’t be proven wrong.”

Kim Jong-un reportedly refused to provide a list of its nuclear facilities and stockpile to Pompeo during their meeting, while calling for the signing of a declaration ending the 1950-1953 Korean War and the easing of sanctions, according to Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun Monday.

The newspaper, citing South Korean, U.S. and Japanese sources, said that Pompeo asked the North to provide at least a partial list, but Kim reportedly said that the United States would not believe one even if it got one in the absence of a trusting relationship between the two countries.

Yomiuri further said that Kim wanted an end-of-war declaration to build trust so that denuclearization would gain speed. Pompeo reportedly said that dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear test site, as declared in the inter-Korean Pyongyang Declaration on Sept. 19, was not enough for Washington to concede to a peace treaty.

A senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official on Monday said he couldn’t confirm reports that North Korea rejected demands to provide a list of its nuclear stockpile and facilities. However, the official said, “While I cannot speak for the United States, there has been no change in its position that it will maintain sanctions on the North, including its unilateral sanctions, until denuclearization.”

“Everything depends on the progress of denuclearization,” said the official. “But it won’t be appropriate for me to say what action will be the condition for easing sanctions.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]