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U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to facilitate inter-Korean economic projects

04:58 April 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Two U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to President Donald Trump seeking his support for cross-border economic projects between South and North Korea.

The Democrats -- Reps. Andy Kim of New Jersey and Ro Khanna of California -- sent the letter on Thursday as Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House.

Moon's visit was seen as an effort to revive nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang following the collapse of Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in February.

This AP photo shows the U.S. Congress building on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 12, 2019. (Yonhap)

"As the U.S.-North Korea contacts continue ... we believe there are steps you can take to support our ally South Korea in their own diplomatic process with North Korea, in particular, their efforts to strengthen cross-border business ties between their two countries," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

"As a businessman yourself, you are aware of the power that business has in creating bonds between people, interconnecting economies by promoting mutual benefit, and reducing the potential for conflict," the letter read.

Moon's push to expand inter-Korean economic cooperation as a tool to accelerate the North's denuclearization has been largely obstructed by U.S.-led sanctions on the regime.

"We are concerned that, rather than facilitating these business ties, some in your Administration reportedly took steps to block the South Korean government from engaging in any such economic cooperation with North Korea," the letter said.

"We urge you to seriously consider revising this approach -- to the extent sought by South Korea and in accordance with U.S. national security interests -- and to do everything in your power to ensure that our close ally can pursue the cross-border initiatives they deem necessary," it added.

Such action, the lawmakers said, will not only advance South Korea's national security interests by building trust with the North, but also those of the U.S., "with the ultimate goal of resolving the nuclear crisis and creating a peaceful Korean Peninsula."

Andy Kim is Korean-American.

The Moon government has especially been keen to reopen the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong and resume tourism to the North's Mount Kumgang.

Asked Thursday about the possibility of easing sanctions to enable those projects, Trump said he would support them at the right time. He added that he wants the sanctions to stay on for now.

hague@yna.co.kr
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