Koreas prepare for summit as North asks U.S. to ease sanctions

John Bolton Says North Korea Hasn't Done Much To Rid Itself Of Nuclear Weapons

North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Thursday that President Donald Trump's summit in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has improved relations between the two nations.

North Korea's foreign ministry said on Thursday it had stopped missile and nuclear tests and dismantled "the nuclear test ground", yet the United States still insisted on "denuclearisation first".

North Korea also accused unidentified high-level USA officials of "going against the intention of President Trump" by "making baseless allegations against us and making desperate attempts at intensifying the worldwide sanctions and pressure". It also echoed criticism of previous administrations' approaches to North Korea that Trump himself has made.

The statement was also published by KCNA.

"In order to sanction the vessels, we need reasonable evidence that they were involved in the activities banned by the UN Security Council", Roh Suk-hwan, deputy commissioner of Korea Customs Service, said in a televised press conference.

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Wrapping up the 10-month investigation, the Korea Customs Service said that the three local companies brought in a total of 35,038 tons of coal and pig iron from North Korea, worth 6.6 billion won ($5.8 million), in seven separate cases from April to October past year.

North Korea then released a statement following up on Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho's criticism of the USA last weekend for not carrying out simultaneous measures after Pyongyang also allowed the U.S.to pick up war remains last month - even though Washington did suspend joint military drills with South Korea this summer.

It wasn't clear who would attend next week's talks, but such meetings have typically been handled in the past by South Korea's unification minister and his counterpart in the North.

North Korea has described the senior officials' approach as "gangster-like" as they try to negotiate denuclearization, according to the report.

But Trump has already given Kim some concessions, including ending joint military drills with South Korea.

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But the details of that process remain vague - North Korea did not commit to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons and the United Nations says its nuclear programme is continuing.

South Korea started looking into allegations of North Korean coal imports back in October and the government was criticized over how long it was taking to investigate.

North Korea has in the past expressed anger over comments made by administration officials in the media, especially Bolton.

According to Iranian media, Mr Ri said his country would seek to retain its nuclear skills for when the United States would revert to a more aggressive position against Pyongyang.

South Korea's Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-keum said on Monday Seoul is "asking North Korea to speed up its denuclearization" and asking the U.S. to "show honest efforts about corresponding measures that North Korea is demanding".

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