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Pyongyang wants economic sanctions eased as ‘precondition’ for revived dialogue with US, South Korean lawmakers say

Pyongyang wants economic sanctions eased as ‘precondition’ for revived dialogue with US, South Korean lawmakers say
North Korea wants international trade sanctions to be lifted before it resumes talks on denuclearization with the US, South Korean legislators have said after being briefed by the country’s main spy agency.

Pyongyang wants the sanctions on the exports of minerals and the imports of refined oil and other essentials to be lifted as “a precondition” to restart denuclearization talks with the US, South Korean MP Ha Tae-keung told the media after being briefed by Park Jie-won, the head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).  

Ha quoted Park as saying that North Korea also wants to import high-class liquor and suits for its elites. 

“The United States should be able to bring them back to dialogue by readjusting some sanctions,” Kim Byung-kee, another lawmaker, said, citing Park. He added that North Korea appeared to have “harbored discontent” with Washington for not offering concessions for the suspension of nuclear and ballistic missile tests. 

The MPs said North Korea is suffering from food shortages and has resorted to feeding its citizens with rice reserved for wartime use. 

The UN Security Council has imposed a wide array of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The US, Japan and South Korea have also imposed their own sanctions on Pyongyang. 

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Citing a closed-door briefing by the NIS chief, the lawmakers said it was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who asked for the direct hotlines between the North and the South to be restored last month. The communication channel was suspended by Pyongyang for more than a year in protest against propaganda leaflets that were sent by South Korean activist groups across the border. 

The Korea Herald quoted Park as saying that there needs to be “a flexible approach” in terms of inter-Korean talks and the joint US-South Korean military drills, which Pyongyang sees as preparations for an invasion.

Kim and his sister, Kim Yo-jong, a senior state official, recently warned that the joint annual summertime drill, which is usually held in August, will damage the prospects for negotiations. 

South Korea’s Defense Ministry responded by saying that the date and scope of the exercise have not yet been decided, while the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, stressed that the drills should not be the source of further tensions. 

North Korea has not officially made new demands regarding sanctions. Last month, Kim said the country needs to prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation” with the US. 

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