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Trump Reversing New NKorea Sanctions   03/23 10:40

   President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he has reversed his 
administration's decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea, with his press 
secretary explaining that the president "likes" leader Kim Jong Un and doesn't 
think they're necessary.

   PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he has 
reversed his administration's decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea, 
with his press secretary explaining that the president "likes" leader Kim Jong 
Un and doesn't think they're necessary.

   It's unclear, however, which sanctions the president was referencing in his 
tweet, which took Treasury officials by surprise.

   "It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale 
Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea," 
Trump wrote from his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

   "I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!"

   The White House did not immediately respond to questions about which 
sanctions Trump was referring to, or what large-scale sanctions were poised to 
be added to existing ones already imposed on North Korea.

   On Thursday, his administration did sanction two Chinese shipping companies 
suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions --- the first targeted actions 
taken against Pyongyang since Trump and Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month 
for negotiations about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

   In addition to Trump's talks with North Korea, the U.S. is knee-deep in 
delicate trade negotiations with China.

   A person familiar with the action told The Associated Press that Trump's 
tweet was not a reversal of existing sanctions, but that the president was 
talking about not going forward with additional large-scale sanctions on North 
Korea at this time. The person was not authorized to discuss the president's 
comments and spoke on condition of anonymity.

   It's unclear whether Trump's decision was related to North Korea's move on 
Friday to abruptly withdraw its staff from a liaison office with South Korea. 
The development is likely to put a damper on ties between the North and South 
and further complicate global diplomacy on North Korea's nuclear program. The 
withdrawal also is seen as a major setback for South Korean President Moon 
Jae-in, who has sought improved relations with North Korea alongside the 
nuclear negotiations between the North and the United States.

   North Korea said it was withdrawing its staff under instructions from 
unspecified "higher-level authorities," according to a Unification Ministry 
statement. It didn't say whether the withdrawal would be temporary or 
permanent. South Korea called the North's decision regrettable and urged the 
North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.

   It was the latest example of Trump's governance-by-tweet, which has often 
sent agency heads scrambling, trying to figure out what he meant and trying to 
implement policy proclamations that have not gone through traditional vetting 
processes. That includes when Trump announced, via tweet, that transgender 
people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military.

   And it came hours after Trump made the official announcement that Islamic 
State-controlled territory in Syria had been reduced to zero from an airport 
tarmac, using a printed map he held upside-down, instead of a formal statement 
or ceremony.

   His North Korea tweet prompted reporters to bombard officials at the White 
House National Security Council and Treasury Department with questions. All 
declined to comment. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a brief 
statement saying only that Trump "likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these 
sanctions will be necessary."

   When the administration announced the sanctions on Thursday against the 
Chinese shipping companies, administration officials briefed reporters. They 
said Thursday's sanctions were evidence the U.S. was maintaining pressure on 
North Korea in an effort to coax its leader to give up his nuclear weapons 
program.

   The Treasury Department sanctioned Dalian Haibo International Freight Co. 
Ltd. and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co. Ltd. for using deceptive 
methods to circumvent international and U.S. sanctions and the U.S. commitment 
to implementing existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

   Calls to the two companies rang without response Friday or were answered by 
people who immediately hung up the phone.

   The Treasury Department, in coordination with the State Department and the 
U.S. Coast Guard, also updated a North Korea shipping advisory, adding dozens 
of vessels thought to be doing ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers 
or exported North Korean coal in violation of sanctions.

   Two senior administration officials, who briefed reporters on condition of 
anonymity to discuss U.S. policy on North Korea, said that illegal ship-to-ship 
transfers that violate U.S. and international sanctions have increased and that 
not all countries, including China, are implementing the restrictions. They 
said the deceptive practices include disabling or manipulating ship 
identification systems, repainting the names on vessels and falsifying cargo 
documents.


(CZ)

 
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