South Korea walks back on possibly lifting sanctions on North

Foreign Minister S. Korea Mulling Lifting Sanctions on N. Korea

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Seoul's potential removal of unilateral sanctions would be a largely symbolic move as it's virtually impossible for South Korea to resume joint economic projects with North Korea under US-led worldwide sanctions, which have been strengthened considerably since 2016 as the North accelerated its nuclear and missile tests.

On Wednesday South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers the country would be "flexible" in reviewing sanctions put in place after an attack on a naval ship in 2010 that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

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.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held after U.S. congressional elections on November 6.

"Well, they won't do it without our approval", Trump told reporters at the White House. "They won't do it without our approval". He's put a hard line stance on US allies maintaining "maximum pressure" against North Korea until it denuclearizes.

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South Korea's foreign minister said that Seoul is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang to create more momentum for diplomacy aimed at improving relations and defusing the nuclear crisis.

Kang said earlier on Wednesday that the government is reviewing whether to lift sanctions imposed on the North.

Abe, who is eager to resolve the long-standing abduction issue, is exploring summit talks with Kim as the North Korean leader moves to build closer ties with the leaders of South Korea, China and the United States.

Last time Pompeo went to North Korea, Kim ditched him and instead toured a potato farm.

At a parliamentary session in Seoul, Kang later watered down her statement, saying there are no full-fledged moves under way to remove the May 24 Measures.

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During Moon's visit to North Korea last month, he and Kim agreed to normalize operations at the Kaesong factory park and resume joint tours to North Korea when possible, voicing optimism that global sanctions could end and allow such projects.

The young leader of the isolated, impoverished but nuclear-armed North has made a series of reconciliatory gestures this year, including a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in June. The DPRK is the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions will be a hard decision for Seoul's government. North Korea denied it.

Moon has mostly stayed firm on sanctions despite actively engaging with North Korea and floating the possibility of huge investments and joint economic projects in return for the North's relinquishment of its nuclear weapons. "As there are many (bilateral) sanctions overlapping the United Nations ones, it won't necessarily mean the substantive lifting (of sanctions on the North)".

In her remarks to the Washington Post, Kang also differed with the United States view on the denuclearization process.

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