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White House says 'powerful' sanctions to remain on North Korea

US White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington June 4, 2018. — Reuters pic
US White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington June 4, 2018. — Reuters pic

After meeting a senior official from Pyongyang at the White House on Friday, Trump said North Korea was being more cooperative and that although sanctions would remain in place, he would hold off on imposing new ones.

Trump said he didn't want to use the term “maximum pressure” any more, because the two sides were “getting along.”

The Trump administration has credited its "maximum pressure" campaign, supported by the United Nations and major world powers, for helping bring North Korea to the table to negotiate giving up its nuclear weapons.

Sanders said preparations for a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were going well, and the two are tentatively scheduled to meet at 9am Singapore time (1am GMT) on June 12.

Trump said on Friday the summit he had cancelled the previous week was back on after he received the North Korean delegation bearing a letter from Kim.

Asked about the contents of Kim's letter, Sanders declined to “get into the specifics” but added “we feel like things are continuing to move forward and good progress has been made.”

“The president has been receiving daily briefings on North Korea from his national security team,” she added.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and ranking Democrats from national security committees released a letter to Trump laying out demands for any pact, which they said must be permanent.

They also urged him to lean hard on Kim's ally China to ensure it “will do all it can to help secure an agreement and then insist on strict North Korean compliance with such an agreement.”

Easing sanctions under a deal would likely need approval from Congress which has passed sanctions on North Korea. Since most legislation needs 60 votes to pass the 100-member Senate and Trump's fellow Republicans hold only 51 seats, that would require Democratic support. — Reuters

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