South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said at Wednesday's parliamentary audit that the government had reviewed whether to lift the May 24 measures imposed following the North's deadly attack on a South Korean warship. U.S. secretary of state Michael Pompeo came away from meetings Sunday in North Korea without a date for another meeting or news on when key denuclearization milestones might take place.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday South Korea will not lift sanctions on Pyongyang without US approval, after the South Korean foreign minister softened earlier comments that some of its unilateral sanctions were under review.
Trump responded saying, "They won't do it without our approval". "They won't do it without our approval". In Washington, officials have vowed to maintain a "maximum pressure" campaign until the North denuclearises.
Regarding Pompeo's reaction, Foreign Ministry official said that Pompeo maintained a "polite" tone during his talks with Kang, and the matter was closely discussed between South Korea and the USA militaries.
"I returned late last night from North Korea from a trip where we made real progress".
Kang backtracked on her remarks after facing criticism from some conservative lawmakers that the sanctions can not be removed unless North Korea first apologized for the attack, a stance adopted by former South Korean governments. Last month's third summit in Pyongyang was partly aimed at salvaging faltering nuclear talks between the North and the United States.
The Chinese delegation's visit to North Korea comes as the United States is planning for a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump.
The North and South also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border. North Korea and the USA continue their denuclearization talks, with their second summit in the works. He said the resumption of the water supply does not violate sanctions.
Kang, however, later backtracked on her remark, issuing an apology.
Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions will be a hard decision for Seoul's government.
Kang pointed out that many parts of South Korea's 2010 sanctions now duplicate United Nations sanctions that were considerably strengthened after 2016 when the North began accelerating its nuclear and missile tests.
"He seems to have repeated his basic position on sanctions on North Korea", rather than specifically on the May 24 Measures, he said. Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.
"But I have agreed to meet", he said.
When it comes to foreign basketball superstars who have visited North Korea, one player used to tower above all others: 6-foot-7, five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman.