South Korean President: Inter-Korean projects could help ease sanctions on the North

14 Jan

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS)

South Korean President Moon Jae said on Tuesday it was too early to be pessimistic about the stalled dialogue between the United States and North Korea on nuclear disarmament and that inter-Korean cooperation would help pave the way for the lifting of sanctions.

Moon said at North Korea’s annual press conference that despite North Korea’s hostile pronouncements, it had not conducted new weapons tests and had also not closed the door to further talks even after Washington ignored Pyongyang’s deadline for concessions before the end of the year.

“North Korea made it clear that the door to dialogue was not closed despite the assumption that they would not return to the talks until after their demands were accepted,” he said.

North Korea said on Saturday it had received congratulations on the birthday of its leader Kim Jong-un from US President Donald Trump, but the personal relationship between the two leaders is not enough to return to the talks.

Negotiations have stalled since the all-day meeting collapsed in October. The United States ignored a deadline by the end of last year that Kim had set for Washington to soften its stance, describing the deadline as “artificial.”

The stalemate in the negotiations further marginalized South Korea. Moon said in his New Year speech that there was an “urgent need” for practical means to start cross-border projects stalled due to sanctions imposed on North Korea over its weapons programs.

Moon said that there are steps that the two Koreas can take that are not prevented by sanctions, including cooperation in the border region and tourism. He also mentioned sports exchanges such as the formation of joint teams for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and a joint effort to host the 2023 Games.

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