Washington: US President Donald Trump’s tweet on withdrawing sanctions against North Korea has sparked confusion among administration officials.
The tweet set off a firestorm in the administration, with aides trying to understand what sanctions Trump was referring to and what the policy implications would be, CNN reported on Saturday.
“It was announced today by the US 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!” Trump tweeted on Friday.
Many aides quickly concluded that the President was referring to sanctions targeting two Chinese shipping companies that have allegedly helped North Korea skirt sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
But two sources familiar with Trump’s tweet said it was in fact not about those sanctions, but instead about additional large-scale sanctions targeting North Korea that have been in the works.
A senior official said the administration will not be pursuing additional sanctions against North Korea at this time and that the actions against the Chinese shippers remain in place.
The White House declined to provide details on the sudden policy shift but said Trump was pulling back the sanctions because he “likes” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
More than two hours after the President’s tweet announcing he would roll back the newly imposed sanctions, administration officials involved were still waiting for guidance from the White House on the meaning of Trump’s tweet and how to proceed.