SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean state media outlets slammed the United States on Tuesday for pressuring the communist nation over human rights issues, calling it a "hostile" act running counter to the goodwill spirit of the historic summit between the two countries.
The North's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, issued the blistering commentary, saying the U.S. blacklisting of Pyongyang as one of the worst human trafficking countries is an "intolerable political provocation" and a "hostile act" that goes against the spirit of the June meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Meari, one of the North's propaganda websites, carried similar criticism.
Adding to the pressure on Pyongyang, however, the U.S. slapped fresh sanctions on the North on Monday, blacklisting top aides to the North's leader, including Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party, for their involvement in human rights abuses.
The sanctions freeze their property or interests within the U.S. and ban their transactions with U.S. citizens. But the action is expected to be largely symbolic as North Korea is already under heavy sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
These measures came amid a deadlock in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea wants the U.S. to ease sanctions in exchange for the denuclearization steps the regime has taken so far, but the U.S. insists that sanctions relief is possible only after the North's complete denuclearization.
The North has claimed that the U.S. taking issue with its human rights situation is a tactic to draw concessions in the stalled denuclearization talks.
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