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U.S.-North Korea relations thaw amid easing of some UN sanctions, talk of new summit

Relations between the United States and North Korea, which had cooled in recent months over Washington’s insistence that economic sanctions remain in place as denuclearization talks progressed, have thawed someone a month ahead of the next expected round of high-level discussions between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un.

Part of the reason for the warming relations is due to the quiet easing of some sanctions against the impoverished nation by the UN Security Council, which oversees those sanctions, the Asia Times reported Wednesday.

Sanctions have been eased on quietly on some humanitarian goods entering the country, including computers, vehicles, generators and medical equipment.

Waivers were permitted in October and November 2018 and on January 18 this year, as North Korea continues to suffer economically.

At the same time, working-level discussions between U.S. and North Korean officials, as well as others from South Korea, which were being held at an undisclosed location near Stockholm, Sweden, finished on Monday.

POTUS Trump has said that the next summit is likely to happen in late February, and while no official location has been named, Asia Times reports that Vietnam is a leading contender.




Meanwhile, working-level talks between officials from both nations, as well as from South Korea, which were held in an undisclosed location near the Swedish capital of Stockholm, wrapped up on Monday.

Some experts say the development of working-level talks has come in response to the UN Security Council’s easing of some sanctions, which happened as a result of the U.S. as a permanent member of the council choosing not to use its veto power.

“I think these are actually quite substantial exemptions because it had been forbidden for a long time to provide North Korea with aid of any kind – X-rays, computers or LED screens – as they were under a general ban,” Go Myong-hyun of Seoul’s Asan Institute, a think tank, told Asia Times. “It kind of indicates which direction U.S. concession are headed.”

The talks in Sweden included North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and South Korean negotiator Lee Do-hoon.

“Constructive talks have been held covering issues concerning developments on the Korean peninsula, including confidence building, economic development and long-term engagement,” a spokesman from Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said, according to Reuters.

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