Koreas prepare for summit as North asks United States to ease sanctions

Iran parade missile

The statement comes days after the USA stressed the need to keep up pressure on Pyongyang through tough sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea rejected U.S. appeals to give up part of its nuclear arsenal and reaffirmed its friendship with Iran yesterday as the fragile detente between the two nuclear powers began to disintegrate.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday that Washington and Pyongyang continue to have conversations on a daily basis.

The rival Koreas plan to hold high-level talks on Monday to prepare for a third summit between their leaders, as Pyongyang called on the United States to reciprocate its "goodwill measures" by easing sanctions and stopping demands that the North denuclearize first.

The foreign ministry said that despite their efforts to work with the US - by stopping their missile launches and nuclear tests - America continues to insist on "denuclearization first", and continues to encourage worldwide sanctions against the North.

The latest statement by the North's foreign ministry also accused USA officials of "going against the intention of President Trump" by "making baseless allegations against us and making desperate attempts at intensifying the worldwide sanctions and pressure".

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North Korea said it has halted nuclear and missile tests and dismantled its nuclear test site as practical steps toward denuclearization, but it lashed out at the US for unilaterally demanding North Korea denuclearize first.

Satellite images from last Friday indicate North Korea has carried out additional activities to dismantle a key missile launch facility, the Washington-based 38 North think-tank said on Tuesday.

Pyongyang also returned the remains of some USA soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean war in a gesture meant to break down mistrust between the countries, it said.

The president has also repeatedly defended Kim's intentions, tweeting last month that he was "confident" the leader would "honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake".

South and North Korea technically remain at war as the Korean War ended only with the armistice treaty. Russian Federation and China have suggested the U.N. Security Council could discuss loosening sanctions on Pyongyang after the June 12 Singapore meeting between Trump and Kim. South Korea's unification minister will lead the delegation from Seoul but North Korea, which proposed the Monday meeting first, did not confirm the makeup of its delegation.

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