North Korean official says sanctions destroy confidence

BEIJING • A North Korean official has called on the United States to lift sanctions against his country, pointing out that these measures destroy confidence in the denuclearisation process taking place on the Korean Peninsula.

"We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good. They are not at all confidence-building measures, but confidence-destroying measures," said Mr Song Il Hyok, deputy director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace.

Mr Song, who was speaking at a session on the Korean Peninsula's security situation at the Xiangshan Forum, said that without confidence it will be difficult to implement the joint declarations on denuclearisation his country made this year after its summits with South Korea, and with the US.

He added that both US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who met in Singapore in June, "recognised that the mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula". He also urged countries enforcing United Nations sanctions on his country to pay attention to "positive developments" in that region.

Mr Song's comments come amid expectations of a second summit soon between Mr Trump and Mr Kim. North Korea, which has halted its nuclear and missile tests, has called repeatedly for international sanctions against the country to be lifted or loosened.

It has chided the US for maintaining its stance that sanctions should be maintained until there has been complete denuclearisation. The US' position is part of its maximum-pressure approach to nuclear negotiations.

Another panellist, Senior Colonel Wang Xiaobin of China's Academy of Military Sciences, said the US and North Korea held opposing positions on the matter, noting that whether both parties can reach a compromise will be an "important issue".

 
 
 

Mr Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow of the China Institute of International Studies, said: "Now that (North Korea) has taken substantive action on dismantlement, the sanctions should be reduced."

This year's Xiangshan Forum is the eighth edition of the annual security conference, and the first to be attended by a North Korean general.

Colonel-General Kim Hyong Rong, Vice-Minister of North Korea's People's Armed Forces, said at the forum's opening plenary session that his country was focusing on economic development, and wants to turn the Korean peninsula into a "cradle for peace and prosperity".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline 'N. Korean official says sanctions destroy confidence'. Print Edition | Subscribe