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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton to Delay Korean Sanctions

SEOUL -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told North Korea on Friday that the Clinton administration was putting a hold on punitive sanctions over its nuclear program. The development, reported by CNN from the North Korean capital, appeared to mark a dramatic break in the 15-month standoff over suspicions the hard-line Communist state has been trying to build nuclear weapons. In Washington, Vice President Al Gore said the United States was willing to hold a new round of high-level talks with North Korea if it confirms that the North is making concessions over its nuclear program, but is not yet ready to suspend pursuit of UN sanctions. "It depends totally on what the circumstances are. We are proceeding with the consultations concerning sanctions now, but depending upon the clarification we receive on what the North Koreans said, then we will evaluate it at the time," he said. North Korean leader Kim Il Sung told Carter he wanted to do all he could to improve relations with the United States, and said he ordered a search for remains of U.S. servicemen missing from the Korean War, CNN said. "I think that this gesture of goodwill may be a good omen for the future," Carter said. South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo, meanwhile, disclosed that a key U.S. condition for new high-level talks with North Korea is that it rejoin the International Atomic Energy Agency, which it withdrew from earlier this week. Han told governing party leaders the North must stay in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if it wants talks with the United States. CNN said the North told Carter it would remain a party to the arms accord. North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, the vehicle for most official pronouncements, had little to say about the Carter-Kim meeting. In a dispatch monitored in Tokyo, it described a sightseeing tour. Of the discussions, it said only that the two had a "sincere talk" on "matters of mutual concern." The former U.S. president's trip had at first been billed as a private visit, but after North Korea expressed eagerness to help resolve the dispute, Washington quickly moved to make Carter its point man. Prior to Carter's mediation mission, tensions had been rising sharply over the nuclear dispute. The United States, supported by South Korea and Japan, pushed for UN sanctions to pressure North Korea to accept inspections. The North repeatedly said sanctions would be an act of war, and both sides' militaries went on alert.