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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

16:00 March 27, 2020

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

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Trump says U.S. is open to helping N. Korea, Iran fight new coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has said that Washington is open to helping North Korea and Iran fight the new coronavirus, underscoring his willingness to make joint anti-virus efforts at this "very serious time."

Trump made the remarks during a weekend White House briefing on his administration's efforts to contain the pandemic, while reportedly confirming North Korea's claim that he had sent a letter to leader Kim Jong-un with an offer for cooperation in battling the virus.

"On North Korea, Iran, and others, we are open for helping other countries. It is a very serious time. North Korea's going through something, Iran is going through something very, very strong," Trump was quoted by the U.S. cable news network, CNN, as saying.

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U.N. human rights chief calls for sanctions relief on N.K. over coronavirus concerns

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called for the easing of sanctions on North Korea amid efforts to prevent the global spread of the new coronavirus.

Bachelet made the appeal in a statement released on the agency's website Tuesday (local time) saying that sanctions on countries including North Korea, Iran and Cuba should be exempted as these countries are among ones "facing the coronavirus pandemic."

"At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended."

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Pompeo calls on G7 to continue pressure on N. Korea

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the Group of Seven major economies and other countries must continue to urge North Korea to return to denuclearization talks and pressure the regime to give up its nuclear program.

At a press briefing, Pompeo said he discussed a wide array of issues with his G7 counterparts during a virtual meeting held earlier in the day, including their response to the coronavirus pandemic and Iran's nuclear program.

"Similarly, the G7 and all nations must remain united in calling on North Korea to return to negotiations and stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure over its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs," he said.

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Pompeo suggests N. Korea has not responded to U.S. offer to help with virus

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested Thursday that North Korea has not responded to the United States' offer to help with the coronavirus pandemic, saying he hopes such countries can "do better" for their own people.

Pompeo made the comment on radio on The Hugh Hewitt Show, after he was asked about plans in the event of an outbreak in Venezuela.

"In countries like Venezuela -- North Korea would be in a similar situation -- we're doing our best to ensure that humanitarian assistance can make its way in," he said.

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S. Korean diplomat says virus unlikely to destabilize N. Korea

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Yonhap) -- A top South Korean diplomat in Washington said Thursday he does not believe the coronavirus pandemic will destabilize North Korea.

Moon Seoung-hyun, deputy chief of mission for the South Korean Embassy in Washington, made the remark during a virtual discussion with the Atlantic Council think tank on his country's widely praised response to COVID-19.

"In the case of North Korea, we have very limited information," he said, noting that some news outlets have reported that the country seems to be suffering from the highly contagious disease.
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