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China says lifting some UN sanctions on North Korea could help break deadlock

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Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. US, Britain and France have insisted that no UN sanctions should be lifted until North Korea takes concrete steps to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

United Nations, New York

CHINA and Russia are pushing the UN Security Council to lift some sanctions on North Korea to ease the country's humanitarian concerns and to "break the deadlock" in stalled denuclearisation talks between Washington and Pyongyang, China's UN ambassador said on Tuesday.

On Monday, China and Russia proposed the 15-member council lift a ban on North Korea exporting statues, seafood and textiles, and ease restrictions on infrastructure projects and North Koreans working overseas, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters.

"With regard to the sanctions, that's also something DPRK has concerns (with) and their concerns are legitimate," China's UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, told reporters, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"If you want them to do something you need to accommodate their concerns. That's the logic behind China and Russia's initiative."

Asked when the draft resolution could be put to a vote, Mr Zhang said: "Once we feel we have strong support then we will take further action." Council diplomats met on Tuesday to discuss the draft text.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China to pass.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft posted on Twitter on Tuesday: "The @UN Security Council has and should always speak in unison on North Korea. We are willing to consider united action, but it must advance the commitments #POTUS Trump and Chairman Kim made in Singapore."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump met for the first time in Singapore in June 2018 and have met twice more since, but no progress toward denuclearisation has been made and Mr Kim has given Mr Trump until the end of 2019 to show flexibility.

North Korea's UN envoy declared this month, however, that denuclearisation was off the table.

The United States, Britain and France have insisted that no UN sanctions should be lifted until North Korea takes concrete steps to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Pyongyang has been subject to UN sanctions because of those programmes since 2006. REUTERS