US Mulling 18-Month Sanctions Relief on North Korea

North Korea changes constitution to make Kim Jong Un official head of state

Though it lacked substance, the impromptu meeting was the first between Trump and Kim since their second summit in Vietnam in February collapsed without any agreement due to squabbling over US -led sanctions on the North, and the two leaders agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks. "North Korea will in all likelihood remain nuclear-armed and under the control of the Kim family for the next two decades". DPRK is an acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name. North Korea's state media described their meeting as "an fantastic event".

The two sides are soon expected to hold their first working-level talks in five months, following up on U.S. President Donald Trump's historic June 30 meeting with Kim on the border between the two Koreas.

The State Department said this week Washington hoped to see a complete freeze in the North Korean nuclear program as the start of a process of denuclearization.

"The imperative is to put in place an agreement that, even if it doesn't get us to disarmament in the very near future, at least provides tangible security benefits that can be built on subsequently", he said.

The DMZ encounter, initiated by a spur-of-the-moment tweet by Trump that Kim said took him by surprise, showed a rapport between the two men but policy analysts said they appear no closer to narrowing the gap between USA demands for denuclearization and North Korea's demand for sanctions relief.

'All UN member states will have to keep vigilance against deliberate attempts by the United States to undermine the peaceful atmosphere that has been created on the Korean peninsula in no easy way, ' the mission said. During their warm encounter, which included South Korean President Moon Jae-in as well, Trump became the first sitting US president to cross into North Korea.

A nuclear freeze would represent only the first step towards the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, as required by United Nations resolutions.

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Senior officials of the Workers' Party of Korea, North Korea's ruling party, are likely to have been already briefed on Kim's latest posture.

"An approach that relies on economic isolation and coercion is unlikely to disarm North Korea and will inhibit efforts to shape the regime's transformation and mitigate its destabilizing behavior", the report said.

Humanitarian assistance and a sustained focus on improving human rights conditions in North Korea should be a key part of any negotiations going forward, according to the report, an element which has been notably absent in most diplomatic engagements.

Yonhap said Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief South Korea's National Security Office, told reporters after meeting Deputy U.S. national security adviser Charles Kupperman that the U.S. side still appeared to be waiting for a response from the North. But it tested new short-range missiles after a second summit with the United States in February broke down, and US officials believe it has expanded its arsenal by continuing to produce bomb fuel and missiles.

"I will say that I did actually speak to Steve Biegun about (a sanctions suspension), and he categorically denied that", State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, responding to a question concerning an article in South Korea's Yonhap.

"I don't think that the administration has ever characterized a freeze as being the end goal", she said.

"[The Trump administration] has got to shift tactics if they want to make progress", he said.

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