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Trump says North Korea suffering, doesn’t need new sanctions

President Trump’s announcement last week on the sanctions raised eyebrows as he said he was reversing sanctions that had been announced that day but which had not.

US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP.

PALM BEACH - US President Donald Trump on Friday reaffirmed that he would stop new sanctions on North Korea, saying the country was suffering and he valued his relationship with its authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump shed light on his tweet a week ago that took Washington by surprise in which he said he was rolling back sanctions on North Korea that the Treasury Department had planned.

“They are suffering greatly in North Korea. They’re having a hard time in North Korea,” he told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

“And I just didn’t think additional sanctions at this time were necessary. Doesn’t mean I don’t put them on later but I didn’t think additional sanctions at this time were necessary,” he said.

A month after his latest summit with Kim ended in stalemate in Vietnam, Trump said he got along “very well” with the young leader, adding: “We understand each other.”

“I think it is very important you maintain that relationship at least as long as you can,” Trump said.

Trump’s announcement last week on the sanctions raised eyebrows as he said he was reversing sanctions that had been announced that day but which had not.

Answering a question on Friday, Trump said the sanctions had been set to be announced at the time but that he stopped them.

The United States nonetheless last week took a separate action of sanctioning two Chinese shipping companies for dealing with North Korea.

Senior administration officials have said that the United States will keep imposing “maximum pressure” on North Korea by maintaining sanctions until Kim gives up his nuclear program.

Trump appeared to heed his advisors in Hanoi when he walked away, with the North Koreans seeking immediate sanctions relief.

Trump’s warm rapport with Kim and reluctance to cause economic harm comes in stark contrast to his stance on other US adversaries such as Iran and Venezuela, on which his administration has relentlessly imposed sanctions.

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