South Korea and the US are continuing their diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea, Seoul and Washington reported. This issue was the subject of Friday talks between the heads of diplomacy of both countries, Chung Eui-yong and Antony Blinken.
South Korea and the US want the North Korean nuclear arsenal and arms program to be dismantled, but they do not always agree on how to achieve this. South Korean President Mun Dze In has sought economic cooperation with the Pyongyang regime, while Washington is demanding tangible steps towards denuclearization.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, the heads of diplomacy of both countries conducted “specific consultations on the methods of cooperation with North Korea, including humanitarian cooperation”. The US State Department said Blinken reaffirmed its support for reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula and announced with Chung that it would investigate the possibility of humanitarian initiatives.
Restored communication lines
North Korea is facing a severe food shortage, and experts estimate that up to a million tonnes of grain may not be fed this year. The collapse of the North Korean economy was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s natural disasters.
Last week, Seoul and Pyongyang restored lines of communication between military and civilian officials after a 13-month hiatus. Some commentators saw in this hope that there would be a thaw and a return to nuclear negotiations with the US, which had been at an impasse since February 2019.
Demand for lifting some of the sanctions
According to the South Korean intelligence agency NIS, before returning to the negotiating table, the North Korean authorities are demanding the lifting of some international sanctions banning the export of metals and the import of fuel and luxury goods, including fine alcoholic beverages and elegant suits, said MPs familiar with the intelligence findings.
The US Department of State announced, however, that Blinken would call on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to fully apply international economic sanctions imposed on North Korea.
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