U.S. says now not the time for U.N. to consider lifting North Korea sanctions

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council should not be considering "premature sanctions relief" for North Korea as it is "threatening to conduct an escalated provocation, refusing to meet to discuss denuclearization," a State Department official said on Monday.

China and Russia on Monday proposed that the U.N. Security Council lift a ban on North Korea exporting statues, seafood and textiles, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters, in a move the Russian U.N. envoy said was aimed at encouraging talks between Washington and Pyongyang. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)