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Kim Says He Must Take Blame on Those Who Impose Sanctions: KCNA

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean chief of diplomacy Kim Jong Un said his country was going to strike a blow to those who impose sanctions by making sure its economy is more autonomous, Reuters reported Thursday quoting Korean news agencies.
It was Kim’s first time exposing North Korea’s stance at the second US summit in Hanoi, which collapsed in February, and signaled continued focus on economic development, a strategic direction officially declared a priority last April.
According to KCNA, regarding North Korea’s position at the summit, Kim said he would double his efforts to create a self-sustaining national economy “in order to make a decisive blow to the hostile forces that are launching into gunshots by calculating badly that sanctions may result (North Korea) to his knees.
The US-North Korean engagement appears to be in limbo since the Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi, which collapsed amid differences over North Korea’s desire to limit its nuclear program and the degree of willingness the United States to mitigate economic sanctions.
Kim has continued to highlight its economic momentum in recent weeks despite the lack of sanctions relief.
The state-run media has published footage and reports on Kim’s visits to at least four economic projects in five days over the past week, including a refurbished department store, tourist centers and an economic center near the border with China.
At a similar plenary session last year, Kim officially announced a “new strategic line” focused on economic progress and improving the lives of North Koreans, rather than the previous two-track approach to weapons development, economic and nuclear.
North Korea is due to convene Thursday a plenary assembly of its parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the ruling party also elevated Choe Son Hui, one of North Korea’s leading negotiators with the United States, to the rank of a member of the party’s Central Committee.
Despite not explicitly naming the “hostile forces” that have imposed sanctions, Kim is showing a tougher stance toward Washington than was the case recently in the state media, analysts said.
The comments were reported a few hours before the summit between US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Thursday to discuss North Korea and other issues related to the alliance.
Moon suggested that sanctions could be eased to allow inter-Korean economic commitment in exchange for some nuclear concessions from North Korea, but so far Washington has not agreed.
“He did not refer directly to the United States, but linked sanctions to hostile forces,” said Shin Beom-chul, senior official of the Asian Institute of Political Studies in Seoul. “He said that North Korea would choose an independent path unless the United States proposes lifting the sanctions. You maintain sanctions, you are a hostile force; if you lighten the penalties, you are not.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a congressional committee on Wednesday that he wanted to leave “some margin” for sanctions if North Korea made “substantial” progress in abandoning its nuclear weapons.
In Hanoi, Kim sought to get away from the main sanctions imposed by the United States, but Pompeo said that they should remain in force until North Korea becomes completely denuclearized.
“The control regime, the basic resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, must remain in place until the verification of denuclearization is complete,” he said.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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