Kim Jong Un Invites the Pope to North Korea despite Christian Persecution

Korean bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik talks during a news conference at the Holy See press office at the Vatican

Kim Jong Un Invites the Pope to North Korea despite Christian Persecution

South Korea has sided with the United States, saying sanctions should remain intact until North Korea completely denuclearizes and that inter-Korean projects will be pursued without violating global sanctions.

In an interview granted to the Washington Post on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in NY last month, Kang said: "What we need to proceed with the South-North cooperation project as identified in the Panmunjom Declaration [issued after the April inter-Korean summit] means that sometimes we may need waivers on the sanctions, but getting waivers is very different from seeking a weakening of the sanctions regime".

When Pompeo arrived in North Korea in July to follow up with Kim after President Donald Trump's historic summit in Singapore, Kim outright ditched the US's top diplomat.

Trump emphasized the rapport he says he's developed with the North Korean leader as they negotiate over U.S. demands that Kim abandon his country's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. "They won't do it without our approval".

South Korea never considered lifting sanctions against North Korea imposed over the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship, the country's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, China released a document that called for a relaxation of sanctions against North Korea - a key part of the Trump administration's pressure on North Korea.

South Korea is supplying water in the North Korean border town of Kaesong using a facility in a now-shuttered factory park that had been jointly operated by the rivals. These projects have been held back by the sanctions against North Korea. "This indicates that Seoul is unhappy with the Americans: If Kang made a faux pas, she would be fired".

The North Korean leader had told Mr Moon about his plan when the two met last month.

A few days after the inter-Korean summit, Gen. Robert Abrams, the next commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, told the Senate Committee on Armed Services that all activities in the DMZ are under the jurisdiction of the UN Command, which the USFK commander also heads.

Currently, tens of thousands of people are being detained in North Korean in labor camps for their religious beliefs and defection.

The North and South also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border.

Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions will be a hard decision for Seoul's government. South Korea has blamed North Korea for the attack, which the North continues to deny. "As there are many (bilateral) sanctions overlapping the United Nations ones, it won't necessarily mean the substantive lifting (of sanctions on the North)".

"We can see that sport is being used as an extension of politics - it is an important political tool that is being used here by North Korea and Beijing", said James Floyd Downes, a lecturer in comparative politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Moon has mostly stayed firm on sanctions despite actively engaging with North Korea and floating the possibility of huge investments and joint economic projects in return for the North's relinquishment of its nuclear weapons.

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