SEOUL, South Korea — The Latest on South Korea saying it’s considering lifting sanctions against North Korea to help diplomacy (all times local):
South Korea’s foreign minister says U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure over an agreement reached between the rival Koreas last month to reduce conventional military threats between them.
Kang Kyung-wha replied “Yes” on Wednesday when a lawmaker asked her whether a Japanese media report was correct that Pompeo had complained strongly about the agreement, which was announced during a summit between the Koreas in Pyongyang last month.
Kang did not specify what Pompeo was unhappy about. She said Pompeo asked “multiple questions” about the content of the agreement.
The agreement calls for the creation of buffer zones along the Koreas’ land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border to prevent accidental clashes. It also provides for a reduction of weaponry and guards at the border and the demining of sections of the Demilitarized Zone.
Kang’s comments are likely to fuel speculation that Washington wasn’t fully on board before Seoul signed the agreement.
South Korea’s foreign minister says 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 Kyung-wha told lawmakers on Wednesday that the government is reviewing whether to lift sanctions South Korea imposed on the North in 2010 following a deadly attack on a warship that killed 45 South Korean sailors.
Seoul then effectively shut down all cross-border economic cooperation except for a joint factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where business activities and investment were also scaled back. Seoul shut down the Kaesong factory park in February 2016 in retaliation of a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
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 U.S.-led international sanctions, which have been strengthened considerably since 2016 as the North accelerated its nuclear and missile tests.
South Korea is supplying water in the North Korean border town of Kaesong using a facility in a now-shuttered factory park that had been jointly operated by the rivals.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Wednesday said the water is being supplied to a liaison office between the countries that opened in Kaesong last month and has been provided to the town’s residents as well.
The ministry says the resumption of water supply does not violate international sanctions against the North over its nuclear weapons and missile program.
South Korea had shut down water and power supplies as it closed the Kaesong factory park in February 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.