Trump reaffirms North Korea sanctions

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook to the White House. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019
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Trump reaffirms North Korea sanctions

  • President rejects concessions to facilitate inter-Korean economic projects

SEOUL: US President Donald Trump has rejected suggestions that he could allow concessions on North Korean sanctions, during discussions in Washington with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

At a press conference at the White House, Trump suggested that he would be open to dialogue with Pyongyang on the condition of complete denuclearization.

“I think that sanctions are, right now, at a level that’s a fair level. And I really believe something very significant is going to happen,” he said. “We could always increase them, but I didn’t want to do that at this time.”

There had been suggestions that some sanctions could be eased in order to facilitate cross-border economic projects, but Trump stated: “This isn’t the right time.”

Inter-Korean initiatives, including an industrial park, railway link and tourism opportunities, have been suspended as a result of the North conducting a series of intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear warhead tests.

Moon expressed hope that a new summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could jump-start the denuclearization process, after the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February.

“The important task that I face is to maintain dialogue and also express to the international community that a third US-North Korea Summit will be held in the near future,” Moon told reporters in the Oval Office. “The Republic of Korea is absolutely on the same page when it comes to the complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

Trump remained cautious about a third encounter with Kim, but did not rule it out.

“A third summit could happen. It’s step by step, it’s not a fast process … If it goes fast, it’s not going to be a proper deal.”

There remain doubts over the South’s optimism for progress, however. Moon Keun-shik, an analyst at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said: “Moon was not able to hear what he had wanted from Trump, but he has cemented his role as the mediator over the nuclear issue.”

Many North Korea experts, though, also queried Moon’s ability to bridge the gap between Trump and Kim.

“Moon and Trump failed to narrow a gap over practical issues, including sanctions on North Korea,” said Chung Se-hyun, a former minister for Korean unification. “If you say there was no deal at the Hanoi Summit, there is also no deal from this Moon-Trump summit.”

Shin Bum-cheol, director of the Center for Security and Unification at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said Moon’s pursuit of a “good enough deal” for partial relief of sanctions in exchange for gradual denuclearization was rebuffed by Trump, leaving Seoul little option but to persuade Pyongyang to meet US terms.

“I question if Kim will accept Moon’s proposal to hold a summit, as he has shown his resolution to respond to the current sanctions,” Shin said.

North Korean state media reported Kim had vowed a “serious blow” to those imposing sanctions on his regime prior to the Trump-Moon Summit, during an address to the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

The remark was construed as a firm stance against economic and trade sanctions imposed by the international community, rather than a threat, as it did not explicitly mention the South, the US, nor threaten military action.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.