Tuesday, 20 October, 2020

North Korea sends protest to US Congress over sanctions

Christy Curtis | 14 May, 2017, 01:38

But it's rare to hear such direct protests from North Korea to the U.S. Congress.

"The U.S. House of Representatives should think twice", the committee said in its letter, a copy of which was published by the KCNA state news agency.

It's not unprecedented for North Korea to directly contact the USA legislature or government.

But Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, said Friday's protest was notable as it was sent by the recently revived parliamentary foreign affairs committee, which was discontinued by Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong Il, in 1998.

The sanctions package bill, which was imposed over the regime's weapons programs, was passed in the House by a vote of 419-1. Last month the US sent a naval strike group into West Pacific near the Korean Peninsula, hoping to deter the North from conducting another missile or nuclear test.

South Korea's Moon, elected this week on a platform of a moderate approach to North Korea, has said he would be willing to go to Pyongyang under the right circumstances and said dialogue must be used in parallel with sanctions to resolve the problem over North Korea's weapons.

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The move to restart the committee has been seen as an attempt to create a "window" for contacts with the outside world - Seoul and Washington in particular.

It was not immediately clear how the protest was conveyed - if it was sent by mail or how it was addressed - since North Korea and the United States have no diplomatic relations and virtually no official channels of communication.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have risen in recent weeks.

The North Korea legislature also pointed out that the hostile actions by Washington "will further handicap the United States in its attempt to resolve the nuclear issue (of the Korean Peninsula)".

Choe was in Norway for so-called Track Two talks with former US government officials, according to Japanese media, the latest in a series of such meetings. The talks, which are held intermittently, are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns. The U.S. Senate still has to vote on the bill.

The U.S. legislation was meant to cut off supplies of cash that help fund North Korea's nuclear program, and increase pressure to stop human rights abuses such as the use of slave labor, the bill's sponsor said. Goods produced by North Korean labor would be barred from entering the US market under the bill.


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