Trump bangs table as Seoul differs over North Korea sanctions

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a signing ceremony at the conclusion of their summit

South Korea has considered lifting economic sanctions created to force North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons, drawing a swift rebuke from Donald Trump and exposing a rift in Seoul's alliance with Washington.

Deputy foreign ministers of China, North Korea, and Russian Federation on Wednesday issued a joint communiqué reiterating the strong ties between the three nations and calling for a loosening of sanctions against the DPRK.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis will be invited to Pyongyang, North Korea to meet with Dictator Kim Jong Un.

However, if they were lifted, by allowing cross-border barter trade - in which goods, but no actual currency crosses borders - North-South trade could feasibly resume without violating global sanctions.

He has encouraged USA allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearises as part of his administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Pyongyang.

The US Secretary of State expressed "discontent" with peaceful negotiations between North and South Korea, which signed a military pact during last month's summit without consulting him.

Kang did not specify what Pompeo was unhappy about.

"Kang is biting the bullet, and indicating to North Korea that South Korea is trying its best to ease sanctions", said Go Myong-hyun, a North Korea researcher at the Asan Institute in Seoul.

Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions would be a hard decision for Seoul's government.

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Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk later clarified, saying the government would seek sanction exemptions "in the event they are necessary", citing previous sanction exemptions that enabled the invitation of North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics early this year, Bloomberg reported.

The law is needed to deal with cases of North Korea espionage in the South, Jeon said, adding North Korea's laws allow human rights violations to take place.

The doveish Moon, who will attend a "peace Mass" for the Korean peninsula in Saint Peter's on October 17, has pushed rapprochement with Kim, meeting him three times in the a year ago.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha writes down a lawmaker's question during a parliamentary audit of her ministry's affairs at its headquarters in Seoul on October 10, 2018.

But the removal of such sanctions wouldn't be enough to get the tours back on, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon.

A unification ministry official said the possible lifting of Seoul's own sanctions on Pyongyang is a matter to be considered in accordance with future conditions, including denuclearization. Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.

"For North Korea, the most meaningful result from the lifting of the May 24 measures would be that its ships will be able to travel through Jeju Strait again", said Koh, referring to waters between South Korea's mainland and the southern island of Jeju.

As part of his delegation to Pyongyang, Pompeo brought along Stephen Biegun, his special representative to North Korea and the diplomat expected to take on more of the day-to-day negotiating with Kim's regime.

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