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Has Donald Trump agreed to lift sanctions on North Korea

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Donald Trump agreed to lift sanctions against North Korea along with providing it with security guarantees, the nation’s state news agency has claimed.The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which also reported Kim Jong-un had accepted an invitation to visit the White House, said Mr Trump had indicated he would lift sanctions along with ending military exercises with South Korea.

There was no independent confirmation of the claim and no immediate comment from the White House. On Tuesday, while Mr Trump had indicated he wanted to end “very provocative” war games, he said that sanctions would remain in place to exert “tremendous pressure”.

The Wall Street Journal said the North Korean report quoted Mr Trump as crediting Mr Kim’s “proactive peace-loving measures” for having created the atmosphere of peace this year. It also suggested Mr Trump had adopted North Korea’s preferred phased approach towards any denuclearisation process, saying the two men had agreed to the “principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action”.

The White House did not immediately respond to queries about the report on Wednesday. Mr Trump did not make any mention of sanctions as he posted a series of tweets as he flew back to Washington via Hawaii, praising the talks and scoffing at those who had said such a meeting could not take place.

“The world has taken a big step back from potential nuclear catastrophe! No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic,” he said in one tweet.

In another, he added: “A year ago the pundits & talking heads, people that couldn’t do the job before, were begging for conciliation and peace – “please meet, don’t go to war.” Now that we meet and have a great relationship with Kim Jong Un, the same haters shout out, “you shouldn’t meet, do not meet!”

KCNA said Mr Trump also expressed his intention to offer security guarantees to North Korea and lift sanctions “over a period of good-will dialogue” between the two countries. It said Mr Kim had said the North could take unspecified “additional good-will measures of next stage commensurate with them” if the US takes genuine measures to build trust.

It quoted Mr Kim as saying: “It’s urgent to make a bold decision on halting irritating and hostile military actions against each other.”

On Tuesday, Mr Trump had been asked about whether he planned to lift sanctions against Pyongyang. 

“The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor. Sanctions played a big role, but they’ll come off at that point,” he said. “I hope it’s going to be soon, but they’ll come off.  As you know, and as I’ve said, the sanctions right now remain. But at a certain point, I actually look forward to taking them off.”

Mr Trump said he had decided not to press ahead to impose 300 new proposed sanctions as it would be “disrespectful” to do so while preparing for the summit. Yet he said he would not lift sanctions that existed unless there was a significant improvement in regard to North Korea’s notorious human rights record.

“No. I want significant improvement. I want to know that it won’t be happening. And again, once you start that process, there will be a point at which, even though you won’t be finished for a while because it can’t happen scientifically or mechanically, but you’re not going to be able to go back. You know, once we reach that point, I’ll start to give that very serious thought,” he said.

He said he believed that 34-year-old Mr Kim, whom he described as a “strong” leader, said he would live up to the agreement they signed to work towards denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula. He said the summit marked a “great moment in the history of the world”.  

The agreement with North Korea did not currently envision removing the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea. However, Mr Trump said he favoured a long-term plan to reduce US troop numbers from South Korea and said the US “will be stopping the war games”, a major concession that was seized on by critics of the president.

Mr Trump was also criticised for failing to make human rights in North Korea a central part of his negotiations. Mr Trump had said they had been raised, but not in great detail. 

“While we welcome news that President Trump raised human rights at the summit, Amnesty International urges the US government to continue to push for urgent reforms in North Korea,” said Francisco Bencosme of Amnesty International USA. “Human rights should not be a footnote in any engagement with Kim Jong-un, but rather a crucial component in negotiations between the two countries.

He added: “There are no “great winners” when North Korea continues to commit systemic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity. It must close its prison camps, where up to 120,000 people continue to be held, protect freedom of expression, and reunite families separated through displacement during the war, forced disappearances, or abductions.”

Campaigners working for denuclearisation said Mr Trump’s meeting with Mr Kim had been a start, but that more work needed to be done.

Christine Ahn, the founder of Women Cross DMZ, who was in South Korea recently to lead a women’s peace delegation, said: “Although the document signed by Trump and Kim is thin, it is bold in its direction of re-orienting relations between historic adversaries.”

She added: “The fact that the first two points start with a commitment to establish new relations and to build a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula demonstrates Trump’s pragmatism and understanding that peace and security assurances are paramount to North Korea’s concerns and pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Source: The Independenct