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Cause for Christmas cheer

19 0 0
By John Burton

Is the spirit of Christmas, which is supposed to be a time of "goodwill to all men," influencing U.S.-North Korea negotiations?

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, last week appeared to offer a holiday gift to Pyongyang when he promised the U.S. will try to expedite humanitarian aid to North Korea.

This came after recent reports that the Trump administration has been restricting some international relief agencies from delivering vital humanitarian aid to North Koreans as part of the broader international sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

Although humanitarian aid was supported to be exempt from the U.N. sanctions regime, strict interpretations of curbs on banking and shipping transactions with Pyongyang and a U.S. travel ban on Americans visiting North Korea have severely impacted the operations of most relief groups in the country.

This has undermined Pyongyang's confidence about the sincerity of promises by U.S. President Donald Trump to improve relations with North Korea in return for the dismantlement of its nuclear program.

During a trip to Seoul, Biegun said he would talk with U.S. aid groups early next year "to discuss how we can better ensure the delivery........

© The Korea Times