North Korea’s state media called on Monday for the United States to ditch crippling economic sanctions as a reward for Pyongyang’s show of good faith in ending its nuclear weapons testing and transferring the remains of American troops killed in the Korean War.
The calls came just days after a confidential United Nations report concluded that the pariah regime has not stopped its nuclear and missile programmes, and continues to conduct illegal trades of oil, coal and other commodities, reported Reuters.
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, and Donald Trump, the US President, agreed at a June summit in Singapore to work towards “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” but little progress has been made amid differing interpretations on both sides of what the declaration means.
The two countries sparred over the weekend, with Ri Yong-ho, the North’s foreign minister, accusing Washington of dragging its feet over confidence-building measures since the summit and stressing the need for “simultaneous actions and phased steps.”
His criticism was revealed in a transcript of a closed-door meeting of top diplomats at an Asian security meeting, also in Singapore, attended by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State.
Mr Ri hit out at Washington for “retreating” from ending the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving US-led United Nations forces, and South Korea, technically still at war with the North.
The North’s state media added fuel to the fire, accusing Washington of “acting opposite” to its plan to improve ties, despite Pyongyang making goodwill gestures.
“There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the US State Department that it won’t ease sanctions until a denuclearisation is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power,” the R