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North Korea condemns new sanctions, but South opens door for talks with the US



SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea condemned Sunday's latest round of US-imposed sanctions, accusing them of undermining an improvement in intra-Korean relations during the Winter Olympics, a press release said.

"The two Koreas have worked together and the Olympics have been successfully held," the state media of the North said.

"But the US brought with great new sanctions the threat of war on the Korean peninsula."

A blockade by the United States would be considered a war, the news agency KCNA said, citing North Korea's foreign ministry.

However, in a separate statement, the South Korean presidential office said the North Korean delegation said Pyongyang was ready to hold talks with the US.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the delegation said developments in relations between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the United States should go hand in hand, a Moon spokesman said in a statement.

President Donald Trump said Friday that the US has imposed its "heaviest sanctions" on North Korea, targeting the regime's shipping and trading capabilities.

In his prepared remarks on the CPAC, Trump pointed out that sanctions against 56 shipping companies, businesses and ships "cut off further sources of revenue and fuel for financing the nuclear program and maintaining the regime's military."

He asked Friday afternoon what he would do if the new sanctions did not slow down the North Korean aggression, Trump said, a "phase two" could be the next step.

"Phase two may be a very crude thing, could be very unfortunate for the world," Trump told reporters in the White House.

A day earlier, Vice President Mike Pence used his platform at the annual Conservative Assembly to remind attendees that the United States "does not stand with murderous dictatorships, we withstand murderous dictatorships."

Pence's comments came after his trip to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies earlier this month, where he sat during the play of the North Korean national anthem.

Despite the tough conversation, Vice President NBC News office later confirmed that a previously scheduled meeting between Pence and North Korean delegates in Pyeongchang (including sister Kim Jong Un Kim Jong Un, Kim Yong Nam) was removed from North Korea's path Hours before the meeting.


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