North Korea lashes out at USA diplomats for not dropping sanctions

John Bolton Says North Korea Hasn't Done Much To Rid Itself Of Nuclear Weapons

The customs service did not identify the companies involved, but said about 35,000 tons of coal was brought into South Korea between April and October in 2017, worth 6.6 billion won ($5.8 million).

They imported North Korean coal or pig iron in seven separate cases between April and October a year ago to five South Korean ports, on the Jin Ao, Rich Vigor, Shining Rich and other vessels, the customs office said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a regular briefing on Thursday that the United States was in touch with North Korea virtually every day or other day but had no travel plans to announce for the moment.

The coal originated from the North Korean ports of Wonsan, Chongjin, Daean and Songlim and were transshipped via the Russian ports of Kholmsk and Vladivostok.

But it has emerged that the South Korean government was tipped off by the U.S. Embassy here.

As the South Korean delegation travelled north, 64 North Korean workers arrived in Seoul for a football match slated for Saturday.

Out of nine cases they looked into, seven cases were found to be involved in the illegal smuggling, according to the agency.

But the details of that process remain vague - North Korea did not commit to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons and the United Nations says its nuclear programme is continuing.

The result of the investigation comes as the opposition bloc steps up attacks against the government, accusing it of loosely enforcing sanctions on the North and even condoning the possible sanctions violations to keep the momentum of dialogue with the communist state.

Some North Korean analysts remain sceptical about recent developments in negotiations, however.

"The issue guarantees a parliamentary investigation as it can severely hurt national interests", Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the Liberty Korea Party, said at a meeting with party officials.

Guterres made the statement following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss the US-led effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"The U.S. should, even at this belated time, respond to our honest efforts in a corresponding manner", North Korea added in its statement.

Pyongyang has also stepped up its calls for a formal end to the Korean War, which some analysts believe is meant to be the first step in the North's effort to eventually see all 28,500 US troops leave the Korean Peninsula.

The comments come less than two months after Trump met in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after which the president proclaimed a historic breakthrough in relations.

Two South Korean under-15 teams, FC Gangwon and Yeoncheon Miracle, will compete in the Ari Sports Cup, a youth football tournament that runs from August 13 to 18 and also includes China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Belarus.

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