Koreas prepare for summit as North asks USA to ease sanctions

UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres

It will mark the fourth such football match between North and South Korean workers, with the last game taking place in Pyongyang in 2015.

"The idea that we're going to relax the sanctions just on North Korea's say-so, I think, is something that just isn't under consideration", Bolton said.

It also claims that "high-level officials within the US administration are making baseline allegations against [North Korea] and making desperate attempts at intensifying the worldwide sanctions and pressure".

But follow-up talks have seen little progress, fueling doubts over the North's intention to denuclearize in both South Korea and the US.

According to the website, the plan has been rejected by North Korean negotiators multiple times over the past two months.

The North Korean statement followed comments this week by top American diplomats stressing the need for Pyongyang to take additional steps toward denuclearisation.

South Korea's unification ministry did not elaborate on the location of the summit, although Mr Moon had previously agreed to visit Kim in Pyongyang during the autumn.

The statement however was short on details and a United Nations panel of experts reported last week that North Korea is pressing ahead with its nuclear and missile programmes. Despite burgeoning diplomatic efforts to disarm North Korea, the global community has maintained maximum pressure on the North.

It accused United States negotiators of going against the intentions of President Donald Trump and the spirit of the summit in Singapore.

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South Korea started to look into the allegations that North Korean coal may have entered its ports in October.

At Trump and Kim's historic summit, the two signed a document stating that Pyongyang would work toward "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

North Korea has chafed at US insistence that no sanctions be eased until Pyongyang's disarms its nuclear weapons.

Amid a lack of progress on North Korea's denuclearization and recent reports of the country evading sanctions, the U.S. has stepped up calls for tighter enforcement of the sanctions.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea's Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary that ending the Korean War is "the first process for ensuring peace and security not only in the Korean peninsula but also in the region and the world".

Pyongyang has made clear it views a peace treaty and a security guarantee from the U.S. that Washington will not attack it as a key step in the process towards full denuclearization, and Thursday's statement appeared to express frustration at the lack of progress on these fronts.

In May, an official statement said "we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards" Bolton after he suggested Libya as a potential model for future North Korean denuclearization. The joint statement released after the event, however, was vague at best and provided no clear pathway for Kim to do so.

However, the statement offered the USA a way forward if it responds sincerely "even at this belated time".

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