South Korea said Monday that sanctions against North Korea could be eased once it takes “substantive steps towards denuclearization”, seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington for such a move.
Last week’s Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un produced only a statement in which Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed after the meeting that sanctions would remain in place until North Korea’s complete denuclearisation.
But his South Korean counterpart suggested Monday they could be eased sooner.
“Our stance is that the sanctions must remain in place until North Korea takes meaningful, substantive steps towards denuclearization,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters.
Seoul and Washington shared the same “big picture” view and would continue close consultations, she added.
The comments come just days after China’s foreign ministry suggested that the UN Security Council could consider easing the economic punishment of its Cold War-era ally.
Any reduction in tensions on its doorstep is welcome for South’s dovish President Moon Jae-in, who supports engagement with North Korea and held his own summit with Kim in April.