U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday (local time) that he had a phone conversation with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, on the alleged illegal shipments of North Korean coal into South Korea and that Seoul promised to take “appropriate” measures regarding the issue.
Asked about North Korea’s alleged violation of the U.N. sections, Bolton said that he had spoken with Chung, who told the U.S. official about the investigations Seoul is conducting of the coal smuggling operations. “They’ve been cooperating fully with us, and they’ll do what’s appropriate under South Korean law, including prosecution,” Bolton said.
Some observers view that Bolton’s disclosure about the phone talks with Chung as a warning to Seoul, as the South Korean government has asked Washington and the U.N. to ease sanctions ahead of the planned inter-Korean summit in fall and is coordinating with Pyongyang and Beijing about a proposed declaration of an official end of the Korean War. However, Seoul’s presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing on Thursday that Washington had never complained to Seoul about the North Korean coal issue, adding that Washington “fully trusts” the South Korean government.
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