U.S. Insists Sanctions Will Remain Until North Korea Denuclearizes

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BEIJING — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Asian powers on Thursday that President Trump was sticking to calls for that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons, as he sought to carry collectively a fragile consensus on sustaining robust sanctions towards the North regardless of Mr. Trump’s declaration that it was “now not a nuclear risk.”

At a information convention in Seoul, South Korea, Mr. Pompeo softened among the president’s current feedback — however didn’t retract them — and insisted that United Nations sanctions would stay in place till North Korea had completed “full denuclearization.”

“We’re going to get the whole denuclearization,” Mr. Pompeo informed reporters. “Solely then will there be aid from sanctions.”

He made the identical level later Thursday in Beijing, the place he met with China’s president, Xi Jinping. However China had already proven indicators of breaking ranks on robust enforcement of the sanctions towards its neighbor and buying and selling companion, saying that with North Korea now on the negotiating desk, they might legitimately be eased.

China didn’t seem to have budged from that place on Thursday. At a information convention alongside China’s overseas minister, Wang Yi, Mr. Pompeo conceded that the United Nations sanctions have “mechanisms for aid” and stated that “we have now agreed on the acceptable time they are going to be thought-about.” However he insisted that point could be after “full denuclearization.”

Mr. Wang, who stated China was intent on enjoying “a constructive function” in reference to the North, declined to reply a query about China’s intentions on the sanctions.

Mr. Pompeo’s robust stance on Thursday — two days after Mr. Trump met North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore for the first-ever summit meeting between leaders of their two countries — was intended to reassure America’s allies Japan and South Korea, and to refute reports in North Korea’s state media that the United States had agreed to ease the sanctions. They were also a clear appeal for cooperation from Beijing.

The government of South Korea, which has been an eager supporter of Mr. Trump’s diplomacy with Mr. Kim, spared no praise on Thursday.

“This is the first time that the highest authority of North Korea promised to the president of the United States to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which we believe has bolstered the political momentum for action to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Kang Kyung-wha, South Korea’s foreign minister.

On Thursday, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea indicated that his government supported Mr. Trump’s decision to end joint military exercises. Speaking at a meeting of his National Security Council, Mr. Moon said South Korea needed to be “flexible” about the exercises if North Korea started moving toward denuclearization.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attached a similar significance to the summit talks’ result.

“I think it is significant that regarding the nuclear issue first, Chairman Kim promised to President Trump the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Abe said. “I think that the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting was a step forward toward peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

But Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, struck a less enthusiastic chord, stressing that stability in the region could only be achieved when North Korea verifiably dismantled “all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges.”

Mr. Kono also suggested that a “pause” in joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea should be “contingent upon” North Korean action toward denuclearization.

Despite the confusion and wariness in the region, there was one clear winner from the political thaw on the Korean Peninsula: Mr. Moon of South Korea, who worked tirelessly to help make the Kim-Trump meeting happen.

On Thursday, election results showed that the Democratic Party of Mr. Moon had ridden a wave of popular support for his peace initiative to win 14 of 17 elections for mayors and governors of big cities and provinces, including Seoul, routing the conservative opposition party Liberty Korea.

The elections took place on Wednesday, one day after the talks between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump. Despite widespread skepticism, many South Koreans celebrated the meeting after months of living in the shadow of a possible war.

“Some analysts give a low score to the North Korea-United States summit, but that is far from how the people think of it,” Mr. Moon told Mr. Pompeo on Thursday.

In Beijing, an initial sense that the summit meeting had been a boon to China quickly disappeared.

“There are big uncertainties,” said Yang Xiyu, a former Foreign Ministry official who directed China’s relations with North Korea in the mid-2000s. “The big differences are on the step-by-step approach for denuclearization that North Korea wants. I am worried the U.S. will say they want everything done at once and then there is collapse.”

The absence of any mention of a longstanding American demand that North Korea must agree to verification of its nuclear dismantlement presented a major stumbling block to progress, he said.

“North Korea is nervous about verification and the U.S. wants verification,” he said.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that his trade dispute with China may have resulted in weaker Chinese enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, but he refrained from strenuously objecting.

Mr. Xi “really closed up that border. Maybe a little less the last couple of months. That’s O.K.,” he said.

“We’re having very tough talks on trade,” he added. “And I think that probably affects China somewhat. And I think, over the last two months, the border is more open than it was when we first started.”

Jane Perlez reported from Beijing and Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea. Motoko Rich contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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