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Russian Ambassador to UN Vassily Nebenzia urges Security Council to lift sanctions on North Korea after its promise to denuclearise

United Nations: The UN Security Council should consider steps toward lifting sanctions on North Korea following its agreement with the United States to scrap its nuclear program, Russia's UN ambassador said on Wednesday.

The council in 2017 adopted three rounds of tough economic sanctions on North Korea, banning most of its exports of raw commodities and severely restricting oil supplies.

Asked about lifting sanctions, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters: "I think that it is only natural that we should be thinking about steps in that direction." "There is progress on the track that should be reciprocal. There should be a two-way street," he added. "Of course the other side should see encouragement to go forward."

Supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un and US president Donald Trump. Reuters

File image of US president Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un. Reuters

At the first ever meeting between sitting leaders of the US and North Korea on Tuesday in Singapore, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un pledged in a joint statement to work toward the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula." The United States along with Japan and European countries maintain that the raft of tough sanctions must remain in place until North Korea has fully dismantled its weapons programmes.

Russia and China argue that there should be a gradual approach, offering some sanctions relief in exchange for concrete action from Pyongyang along the path toward denuclearisation.

The council is expected to meet to discuss the results of the Singapore summit, but Nebenzia, who holds the council presidency in June, said nothing had been scheduled yet. "It would be interesting to hear from those who were directly involved their assessment of the results," said the Russian ambassador.

Many diplomats credit the UN move to ramp up sanctions as a decisive factor in pressuring Kim to agree to negotiate an end to North Korea's military programme. Kim came to understand that "having a nuclear bomb is not compatible with having an economy," said a Security Council diplomat.

Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, who heads the council's sanctions committee on North Korea said the punitive measures were still being applied in full force. "We will continue to keep up the pressure with the full implementation of the sanctions," he said.

Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 11:51 AM

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