North Korea says US ‘hell-bent’ on sanctions despite Trump-Kim meet
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held an impromptu summit on North Korean soil on Sunday, where they smiled and shook hands, ending a standstill in discussions.
But in a quick shift in tone, Pyongyang’s delegation to the United Nations on Wednesday said the US continues to be “obsessed with sanctions”.
It complained that while Trump invited Kim to hold talks, the US had also sent a letter to all UN member-states urging them to send back North Korean workers.
The delegation claimed the letter – also signed by Britain, France and Germany – was sent on June 29, the same day Trump tweeted that he would like to shake Kim’s hand during his visit to the Korean peninsula.
“What can’t be overlooked is the fact that this joint letter game was carried out by the permanent mission of the United States to the UN under the instruction of the State Department, on the very same day when President Trump proposed (for) the summit meeting,” said the press statement from the North Korean mission.
It shows that the US is “more and more hell-bent on the hostile acts” against North Korea, even while it is seeking dialogue, it added.
The US letter was in fact sent on June 27 and called on all countries to apply sanctions provisions that call for the return of all North Korean workers by the end of 2019
The UN estimates tens of thousands of North Koreans are sent abroad every year, mostly to China and Russia, working in slave-like conditions to generate hard currency for Pyongyang.
“We do not thirst for lifting of sanctions,” the North Korean mission said, adding it was “quite ridiculous” for the United States to consider the restrictions a “panacea for all problems.”
UN sanctions ban all new contracts with North Korean workers and commit countries with existing migrant labourers from there to sending them back by the end of this year.
In the letter, the four countries noted that only 34 countries had filed reports to the UN on what action they have taken.
Trump became the first US president to ever visit North Korea on Sunday, stepping in to the Demilitarized Zone following a last-minute invitation to his counterpart on Twitter.
It marked a thaw in the pair’s hot-and-cold relationship, after their last meeting in Hanoi ended without agreement.
As well as the working-level talks, Trump also floated the idea of sanctions relief — repeatedly demanded by Pyongyang — and said he invited the North Korean leader to the White House.
Analysts have been divided by Sunday’s events, some saying they spurred new momentum into deadlocked nuclear talks, while others described them as “reality show theatrics”.
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