China: Concessions Necessary to Revive North Korea Talks

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BEIJING – China announced that the United States needs to grant some concessions by agreeing to the lifting of certain United Nations (UN) sanctions on North Korea in order for diplomacy to kick-start between Washington and Pyongyang.

China, jointly with Russia, has proposed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would lift bans on North Korean exports of statues, seafood, and textiles, and would ease restrictions on infrastructure projects and North Koreans working overseas, according to Reuters, which says it has seen a copy.

Beijing and Moscow say the limited sanctions relief is necessary if Washington aims to see Pyongyang return to the negotiating table in talks aimed at demilitarizing the Korean Peninsula. The veto-holding US has previously rejected that draft resolution.

On Tuesday, when a Security Council meeting was held to consider the draft text, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said the US needed to refrain from vetoing it to “break the deadlock” in stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang, according to World News.

“With regard to the sanctions, that’s also something DPRK has concerns (about) and their concerns are legitimate,” Jun told reporters, using an abbreviation for North Korea’s official name.

“If you want them to do something, you need to accommodate their concerns. That’s the logic behind China and Russia’s initiative,” the Chinese envoy to the UN added.

But remarks by diplomats suggested that the resolution had not been put to a vote during the Tuesday Security Council meeting.

“Once we feel we have strong support, then we will take further action,” Jun noted when asked when the draft resolution would be put to a vote.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft also said on Twitter that any action at the Security Council must “advance the commitments” made by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a summit in Singapore in June 2018.

Trump and Kim produced a short, broadly-worded agreement at the end of that summit, in which North Korea “commits to work [sic] toward” denuclearization. Washington says that provision bounds Pyongyang to denuclearize, and the White House has taken it to mean that North Korea must denuclearize first. The US has thus refused to offer any sanctions relief.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang, which has already taken several unilateral actions — including demolishing a major nuclear test site — has most recently ruled out denuclearization because the US has refused to take any reciprocal measures. North Korea has set the end of 2019 as the deadline for the US to take such action. Washington has rejected that timeline, too. The resolution tabled by China and Russia has been meant to break that deadlock.

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