US President Donald Trump speaks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they sit for a dinner at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump has canceled additional “large-scale” sanctions to tighten international pressure on North Korea. Trump tweeted on March 22 – Friday night US time – that he had ordered the withdrawal of a US Treasury Department move, announced on its website on Thursday, to punish two Chinese shipping companies that have helped North Korea evade sanctions.

One of the companies, Dalian Haibo International Freight Co Ltd, is accused of having provided services to the North Korean company Paeksol Trading Corporation, including the transfer of metal or coal from North Korea.

The other company, Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co Ltd, is said to have used “deceptive practices that enabled EU-based North Korean procurement officials to operate and purchase goods for the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] regime.”

The Treasury Department statement said: “The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe the full implementation of North Korea-related UN Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome.”

However, Reuters reported that Trump did not reverse sanctions on Chinese shipping companies imposed by the Treasury Department. The president’s tweet allegedly referred to a decision not to go forward with additional large-scale sanctions on North Korea at this time, a source said on condition of anonymity.

The latest announcements follow an unsuccessful summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in late February.

No agreement on the denuclearization of North Korea, which the US has demanded, was reached at that summit, and Trump’s order to hold off on additional sanctions marks a departure from his administration’s messaging a day earlier.

CNBC said: “In a tweet Thursday after the Treasury’s announcement, White House national security adviser John Bolton said ‘Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure that they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion.’

“But now White House Press Secretary [Sarah] Huckabee Sanders says that ‘President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.’”

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