U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering the withdrawal of recently announced North Korea-related sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department. It was not immediately clear what sanctions Trump was referring to.
There were no new U.S. sanctions on North Korea announced on Friday but on Thursday the United States blacklisted two Chinese shipping companies that it said helped North Korea evade sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders did not specify which sanctions Trump spoke of but said: “President Trump likes Chairman Kim (Jong Un) and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
Trump’s tweet and the press secretary’s clarification of it sent waves of confusion throughout Washington, from the Pentagon to the White House itself.
Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have met face to face twice, but left a summit in Vietnam last month without reaching a deal on denuclearization. Since the summit, reports have emerged of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and rocket site.
Trump’s surprise reversal Friday marks a departure from his administration’s messaging a day earlier. In a tweet Thursday after the Treasury’s announcement, White House National Security Advisor 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.”
It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
The United States of America no longer has a foreign policy. https://t.co/SnMkzYadG6
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) March 22, 2019
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) March 22, 2019