A North Korean official tells a security forum in Beijing that US sanctions are “confidence-destroying” and hinder the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula.
Song Il Hyok, deputy director general of the North Korean foreign ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace, called on Washington Thursday to “lift immediately the sanctions and this hindrance” to confidence-building.
“We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good,” media outlets quoted Song as saying.
Also at the forum was North Korean Colonel General Kim Hyong Ryong, who said his country was following through on declarations reached with South Korea and the US.
“It is our firm and unshakable position” to implement the joint statement with the US which will transform “the Korean Peninsula, once a hot spot in the world, into a peaceful and prosperous region”, Kim said.
The officials spoke at the Xiangshan Forum, a regional defense dialogue hosted by China since 2006 as part of Beijing’s efforts to step up its global influence.
In June, US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a landmark summit in Singapore, during which they agreed to work toward denuclearization of the peninsula.
The North has already taken several steps toward that goal, but the US has taken none.
Pyongyang agreed earlier this month to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site.
The North is seeking relief from harsh sanctions, but the US has pledged to keep them in place as long as Pyongyang has not fully dismantled all its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The United States has even blocked a move by South Korea to remove a broad trade and investment embargo imposed on the North in 2010.
According to US officials, Trump and Kim are likely to hold their second summit early next year.
The UN Security Council has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions on North Korea since 2006 over Pyongyang’s military programs, which it has defended as a deterrent against a possible US invasion.
Last month, South’s President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader signed a deal at a summit in Pyongyang, under which they agreed to halt military exercises, gradually remove landmines and guard posts within their demilitarized zone and establish an extensive no-fly zone near their border.
The two Koreas are technically at war because their conflict of 1950 to 1953 ended in a truce not a peace treaty, but bilateral relations have improved significantly in the last year.