Confusion as Trump intervenes on North Korea sanctions with tweet

On Thursday, his administration did sanction two Chinese shipping companies suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions - the first targeted actions taken against Pyongyang since Trump and Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month for negotiations about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a brief statement saying only that Trump "likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary".

In our news wrap Friday, President Trump announced that he is withdrawing sanctions his administration imposed on North Korea just yesterday.

Trump also tweeted Friday that he had "ordered the withdrawal of those additional sanctions". Neither the Treasury Department nor the Justice Department announced new sanctions Friday, leading to confusion at Trump's tweeted claim to the contrary.

During a recent background briefing on North Korea, a senior administration official stressed that the maritime industry had to do "more" to stop North Korea's illicit shipping practices or risk further sanctions-based consequences by the United States. However, a similar Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi earlier this month came to an early close amid disagreements concerning US sanctions and Pyongyang's failure to denuclearize.

Trump is determined, officials said, to prevent his aides from undercutting what he views as his biggest foreign policy accomplishments: reducing tensions with North Korea and creating the opportunity for an historic deal.

US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of the new round of North Korea-related sanctions that had been announced earlier by the US Treasury.


Adam Schiff, a Democrat who heads the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, blasted Mr Trump for cancelling sanctions "imposed only yesterday and championed by his own national security advisor, because he "loves" Kim".

CNN's national security reporter Kylie Atwood noted that the companies were "violating sanctions that are already in place".

The way in which Trump made his announcement and its ensuing confusion could hurt the standing of his top advisors and aides in the eyes of North Korea and US allies in the region, said Bruce Klingner, an expert on North Korea at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA Korea deputy division chief.

The Treasury Department announced on Thursday it would be imposing new sanctions against Pyongyang, further restricting the isolated, nuclear-armed state's options for worldwide trade. "Important actions today from @USTreasury", he said.

North Korea informed the Seoul government that it was "pulling out with instructions from the superior authority", South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said.

Hours after the sanctions were announced Thursday, North Korea pulled its officials from an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong.

While South Korea's president Moon Jae-in has tried to act as a bridge between Trump and Kim, Choe called her country's southern neighbor "a player, not an arbiter", because it was an ally of Washington.

  • Tracy Klein