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NKorea demands from America return of seized cargo ship

May 15, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea on Tuesday called the United States seizure of a North Korean cargo ship involved in banned coal exports a “robbery” and demanded that the vessel be returned immediately.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, carried a statement by an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman who accused the US of betraying the spirit of a summit agreement last June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Kim and Trump agreed then to a vague statement calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and improved bilateral ties, but a second meeting between the leaders collapsed in February over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament.

The seizure of the cargo ship, which was announced last week, came at a delicate moment in US-North Korean ties, with North Korea resuming weapons tests that seem meant to force the US to ease sanctions.

This undated photo released by the U.S. Justice Dept, Thursday, May 9, 2019, shows the North Korean cargo ship Wise Honest. The Trump administration says it has seized a North Korean cargo ship that U.S. officials say was used to transport coal in violation of international sanctions. AP PHOTO

“The UN (United Nations) Security Council resolutions the United States mentioned as one of the reasons for robbing our trade vessel equate to a violent infringement of the sovereignty of our country and we have been entirely rejecting them,” the KCNA statement said. “The United States should carefully consider what kind of consequences their daylight robbery could bring to the political situation and should send back our vessel without hesitation.”

Before the US seized the cargo ship, the 177-meter (581-foot) vessel, named the Wise Honest, had first been detained by Indonesia in April 2018 while transporting a large amount of coal. It was brought Saturday to American Samoa, where it will undergo inspections.

AP

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