US President Donald Trump on Thursday (local time) said that he wanted to retain the sanctions imposed on North Korea while he worked towards getting the denuclearisation talks back in track with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
During a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, The Hill quoted Trump as saying, "We want sanctions to remain in place", adding that the penalties are at a "fair" level.
Trump's comments is in direct contradiction to what he said earlier when the 72-year-old leader said that he had removed "additional large-scale" sanctions on North Korea, apparently referring to the new penalties on two Chinese shipping firms allegedly supplying to the elusive state.
However, Trump's latest comments on the previous sanctions remaining place mean the US is aiming to pressurize North Korea to rid itself from developing nuclear weapons.
While Trump asserted that he has the option to "significantly" slap more sanctions, the US President said that he did not want to do so because of his "close relationship" with Kim.
"As you know, a couple of weeks ago I held it back. And I really believe something very significant is going to happen," Trump said.
On the prospects of a third meeting between him and Kim, Trump said the summit "could happen".
It is widely speculated that Moon is expected to participate in the proposed third US-North Korea summit, along with Trump and Kim, in order to keep the denuclearisation talks on track and chalk out a peace deal to end the over six-decades long Korean War.
Technically, North and South Korea remain at war as no peace agreement was signed. The two nations had signed an armistice pact which brought about a complete cessation of hostilities from the two sides.
Moon, arrived in Washington DC on Wednesday to meet Trump to discuss on the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam, which ended in a stalemate, with no agreement reached. It was the first visit by the South Korean President after the meeting in February ended abruptly.
The talks between the US and North Korea have been stalled ever since. Trump has also asked his South Korean counterpart to help facilitate future dialogues with Kim.
Notably, Moon has so far held three talks with Kim over denuclearisation last year.The South Korean President also had an emergency telephonic conversation with Trump after the Hanoi summit ended without an agreement.
Despite the breakdown of the second US-North Korea summit, Trump had maintained that the relationship with the elusive state continues to be "good".
Ties between the US and North Korea have hit a roadblock over the ease of sanctions, where Pyongyang sought partial relief as a recognition of the steps taken towards denuclearisation.
Washington has, until now, reinforced that relief in sanctions would only be given after the communist country carries out "complete and verifiable" denuclearisation. (ANI)