October 18, 2018 13:05
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said Washington will keep sanctions against North Korea in place if the isolated country fails to denuclearize, Voice of America reported Wednesday.
The comment came after President Moon Jae-in called for UN sanctions to be eased as a means to facilitate the North's denuclearization.
U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris also reiterated the importance of "a common voice" to achieve the common goal.
He was speaking at a seminar co-sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Seoul.
"We are, of course, cognizant of the priority that President Moon Jae-in and his administration have placed on improving South-North relations," he added. "I believe this inter-Korean dialogue must remain linked to denuclearization, and South Korea synchronized with the United States."
Commenting on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent flying visit to Pyongyang, Harris said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited inspectors to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Tongchang-ri missile launch site.
"There, of course, remains a lot of work to be done," he added, "But I believe that if the United States and South Korea continue to approach North Korea with a common voice, we can turn the commitments that were made in Pyongyang, Panmunjom and Singapore into reality."
Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom defended a controversial project to reconnect railways and roads between the two Koreas that could violate sanctions. Kim told reporters the project "is going on smoothly" as scheduled and claimed South Korea is in close consultation with the U.S.
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