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U.S. says inter-Korean cooperation, denuclearization need to move in lockstep

All Headlines 05:34 January 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- The United States and South Korea are working together to ensure that inter-Korean cooperation proceeds "in lockstep" with progress in North Korea's denuclearization, the State Department said Friday.

The comment by a department spokesperson suggests that Washington remains wary of any attempt by Seoul to revive inter-Korean projects without first consulting the U.S.

The issue has drawn renewed attention since President Moon Jae-in said in a press conference earlier this week that South Korea should expand cross-border cooperation as a way to facilitate stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

"The United States supports inter-Korean cooperation and coordinates with our ROK ally to ensure inter-Korean cooperation proceeds in lockstep with progress on denuclearization," the spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency, using the abbreviation for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

Many of Moon's initiatives, including projects to reconnect railways and roads between the two Koreas, have stalled due to United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang.

The U.S. maintains that all sanctions should be fully enforced until the North takes concrete steps toward dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Asked about the Moon government's push to allow individual tours to North Korea, the spokesperson said the allies are committed to close coordination on "our unified response" to the North.

He did not specifically address the issue of individual tours, but added, "All U.N. Member States are required to implement U.N. Security Council (sanctions) resolutions" against North Korea.

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

hague@yna.co.kr
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