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China, Russia push to ease N Korea sanctions as Seoul mulls options

AFP  |  Seoul 

and have backed easing sanctions on "at an appropriate time", as South Korea's said was mulling lifting its own measures, threatening cracks in global restrictions on the nuclear-armed North.

is sanctioned under multiple resolutions over its weapons programmes and has repeatedly called for the measures to be loosened, citing a freeze in its nuclear and missile tests.

At three-way talks in Moscow, vice foreign ministers from North Korea, and agreed "it is necessary to consider adjusting sanctions on the DPRK by the at an appropriate time", Beijing's foreign ministry said in a statement late Wednesday, using the North's official name.

is the North's main diplomatic backer and also has friendly relations with

In contrast the United States, which spearheaded global efforts to squeeze the North Korean economy last year, has been adamant that the sanctions remain in place until Pyongyang's "final, fully verified denuclearization".

US ally has also mooted relaxing its own unilateral measures against Pyongyang.

The South's Moon Jae-in favours engagement with the North and has dangled large investment and joint cross-border projects as incentives for steps towards denuclearisation.

suspended most trade with the North in 2010 following a North Korean torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors on board. Pyongyang has denied involvement.

"We are reviewing it with related government agencies," South Korean told parliament on Wednesday.

Kang later backtracked, saying she had misspoken, and her ministry said no active review was in place.

South Korea's added Thursday that there has been "no detailed review" on lifting sanctions but said has taken measures for cross-border cooperation "in a flexible manner".

In response to Kang's remarks, Trump said: "They won't do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval." Moon has vowed to honour the UN sanctions, but Seoul opened a joint liaison office in the North Korean border city of last month and has promised to pursue roads and rail projects between the two countries.

South Korean media urged caution Thursday, saying relaxing sanctions now could jeopardise any chances for the North's denuclearisation. said in an editorial it was "dumbfounded" by Kang's comments.

The conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper added: "What brought the North to the negotiating table for denuclearisation was the unprecedented tough sanctions. "By lifting sanctions now, is the saying it will dismantle

North Korea's nuclear weapons or help it keep them?" it said.

Last month, the North's told the there was "no way" his country would disarm first as long as sanctions remain in place.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 11 2018. 16:55 IST