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U.S., S. Korea committed to unified response to N. Korea: State Dept.

All Headlines 05:37 January 15, 2020

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- The United States and South Korea are committed to their unified response to North Korea, the State Department said Tuesday in response to President Moon Jae-in's assertion that individual tours to North Korea are not subject to United Nations sanctions.

Moon made the remark during a New Year's press conference Tuesday as he emphasized the need to expand inter-Korean cooperation to facilitate U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks and win international support for partial sanctions relief for Pyongyang.

The president has championed a "virtuous-cycle" approach to North Korea that calls for expanding cross-border ties and inducing the regime to give up its nuclear weapons program through dialogue.

The term "individual tours" is likely a reference to tourism at the North's Mount Kumgang. Group tours to the scenic mountain were halted in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead there.

Moon's government has sought to resume the program, as well as other inter-Korean projects.

"The United States and our ally the Republic of Korea coordinate closely on our efforts related to the DPRK, and we are committed to close coordination on our unified response to North Korea," a State Department spokesperson said in response to a Yonhap query, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"All U.N. Member States are required to implement U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions," the spokesperson added, without saying whether individuals tours to North Korea fall under the scope of sanctions.

Washington has been wary of allowing exceptions to the U.N. sanctions regime out of concern they could undermine its "maximum pressure" campaign to denuclearize the North.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department added two more North Korean entities to its sanctions list for facilitating North Korean labor exports in violation of U.N. sanctions.

This AFP file photo shows the U.S. Department of State in Washington. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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