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US reaffirms need for inter-Korean cooperation, denuclearization to move in lockstep


WASHINGTON -- The United States reaffirmed Monday that inter-Korean cooperation should proceed "in lockstep" with progress in North Korea's denuclearization, as Seoul continued to push for individual tours to the North.

Earlier, Seoul's unification ministry said it is looking at ways to hold talks with Pyongyang on allowing tours to North Korea on an individual basis. The push has gained traction after President Moon Jae-in cited it last week as a way to expand inter-Korean exchanges without violating sanctions.

"The United States supports inter-Korean cooperation and coordinates with our ROK ally to ensure inter-Korean cooperation proceeds in lockstep with progress on denuclearization," a State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency, using the abbreviation for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

The comment underscores Washington's concern that any flow of resources to North Korea could undermine its "maximum pressure" campaign to denuclearize the regime.

Still, US officials have also told their South Korean counterparts that Washington respects decisions Seoul makes as a sovereign nation.

Meanwhile, asked about reports that North Korea has replaced its foreign minister, the spokesperson said, "I don't have anything for you on this." (Yonhap)

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