Economy

USA to ban its citizens' travel to North Korea

USA to ban its citizens' travel to North Korea”

It is possible that North Korea would demand that South Korea lift its sanctions on the North and cancel the annual joint military exercises held by South Korea and the United States in August, among other matters, as preconditions for holding bilateral talks. But humanitarian relief groups still call for donations, warning that shortages remain widespread. Pyongyang's recent successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile - has created even more urgency to stop North Korea before it can master putting a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of hitting the United States.

The South's overtures of talks with the North marked the first by the left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration, seeking to engage the nuclear-armed communist neighbor after a decade of animosities.

The latest data - released on Friday by the Bank of Korea - show that the North Korean economy grew 3.9% in 2016, driven by farming, mining and manufacturing.

Seoul had proposed to hold rare inter-Korea talks this week at the border truce village of Panmunjom to ease hostilities after a series of missile tests this year.

South Korean defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a briefing the military talks proposed for Friday were practically impossible as the North had not responded. The rates start at $1,000 for several days and rise for tours of up to three weeks, he said. This is expected to damage North Korea's food supply and heighten its need to import cereals, the FAO cautioned.

This was due to reluctance to allow monitoring of food distribution and also in part to earlier sanctions implemented to punish it over its weapons development program.

"North Korea uses these hostages as bargaining chips", he said. "The United States is now trying to galvanize the global community to do their best to enforce sanctions".

Young Pioneer Tours said that "after the 30-day grace period any USA national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government".

"We have been evaluating whether we should put some type of travel visa restriction to North Korea", Tillerson told the committee.

China accounts for almost 90 percent of North Korea's foreign trade, and mineral resources are a key part of their bilateral trade.

Also on Friday, South Korea's central bank, the Bank of Korea, said that the North Korean economy grew by an estimated 3.9 percent past year.

North Korea's economy grew at the fastest pace in 17 years in 2016 in another data to support the argument that worldwide sanctions have limited effect in humbling and forcing the reclusive country to yield weapons program.

Economists caution that it is hard to offer reliable economic growth estimates for North Korea because it does not release its economic data. The South's previous conservative governments were tough on Pyongyang.



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