'Lift sanctions on liquor and suits’: North Korea’s precondition to restart talks with US
- The UN Security Council has passed resolutions imposing a wide range of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear programs and intercontinental ballistic missiles tests.
North Korea has demanded the easing of international sanctions on imports of refined fuel and other necessities, including fine liquors and suits before it restarts denuclearisation talks with the United States, South Korean lawmakers said Tuesday. While US President Joe Biden has rejected his predecessor’s approach to North Korea and its nuclear program, Pyongyang has been giving mixed signals to the new administration for restarting the talks.
Park Jie-won, South Korea’s head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), briefed the lawmakers on the matter a week after Pyongyang and Seoul restored hotlines suspended a year ago by North Korea, reported news agency Reuters. Citing the briefing by Park, Ha Tae-Keung, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters that North Korea has put some preconditions to reopen talks, including the lifting of sanctions banning exports of minerals and imports of refined oil and other necessities.
"I asked which necessities they want the most, and they said high-class liquors and suits were included, not just for Kim Jong Un's own consumption but to distribute to Pyongyang's elite," Reuters quoted the lawmaker as saying.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken has planned to participate in virtual meetings with his Southeast Asian counterparts where he will call on ASEAN countries to fully implement the sanctions on North Korea, state department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday, indicating that Washington is not willing to lift any sanctions as a precondition to restart talks with Pyongyang.
Price said the next day that the US welcomes the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines and is willing to meet North Korean leaders “anytime, anywhere, without preconditions.”
“It’s up to [North Korea] to respond positively to that outreach,” he added.
The UN Security Council has passed resolutions imposing a wide range of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear programs and intercontinental ballistic missiles tests. The United States and other countries have imposed their own sanctions but haven’t been able to force North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programmes.
"The United States should be able to bring them back to dialogue by readjusting some sanctions," said Kim Byung-kee, another South Korean legislator, citing Park.
(With inputs from agencies)