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Travel ban review won’t affect sanctions: Pompeo

Dec 24,2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “nothing could be further from the truth” than that Washington was relaxing its economic sanctions against North Korea by reviewing its ban on U.S. travel to the country.

Pompeo made the remark during an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep last week.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. State Department’s special representative for North Korea, said on Wednesday in Seoul that U.S. officials plan to review sanctions on the regime and a travel ban to ensure they don’t limit humanitarian aid to North Koreans.

Biegun landed in Seoul last Wednesday for a four-day visit to meet with his South Korean counterpart a week ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony for an inter-Korean road and railway project.

According to a transcription of the NPR interview published last Thursday, Pompeo scolded Inskeep for reading only half of Biegun’s statement when Inskeep said the North was getting benefits without giving things up.

“The North Koreans have not suffered an economic sanctions regime like the one that the [Donald] Trump administration has imposed and continues to impose,” said Pompeo. “You say things and they’re just unfounded, Steve. You say we’re going, we’re going to loosen travel restrictions, when if you read the statement very clearly, we’re working to make sure that humanitarian assistance can be delivered.”

Pompeo continued that humanitarian assistance was “important” because it had “deep connotations.”

“The truth of the matter is that we are very consistent with what we’ve done before,” Pompeo said. “Making sure that where there is real need, real humanitarian need there, that we don’t deny that to the people of North Korea.

“And sometimes it takes getting an American to be able to travel in there to achieve that and where that’s the case we want to facilitate that,” Pompeo continued.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]