N. Korea rejects Seoul’s aid-for-denuclearisation offer

N. Korea rejects Seoul’s aid-for-denuclearisation offer
N. Korea rejects Seoul’s aid-for-denuclearisation offer

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This picture taken on August 18, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 19, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un giving a speech to congratulate members of the military medical department of the Korean People's Army for contributing to the prevention of the spread of Covid-19, in Pyongyang. — AFP pic/KCNA via KNS

SEOUL, Aug 19 — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday slammed Seoul’s offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearisation as the “height of absurdity” and dismissed the possibility of face-to-face talks.

The statement follows South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol this week putting forward an “audacious” aid plan that would include food, energy and infrastructure help in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.

Analysts previously said the chances of Pyongyang accepting such an offer — first floated during Yoon’s inaugural speech — were vanishingly slim, as the North, which invests a vast chunk of its GDP into weapons programmes, has long made it clear it will not make that trade.

Kim Jong-un’s sister, Yo-jong, on Friday called Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, adding the entire premise of the North willingly putting its nuclear programme on the table was wrong.

“To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realise that he is really simple and still childish,” she said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency.

“We make it clear that we will not sit face to face with him,” she added.

North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.

Washington and South Korean officials have repeatedly warned that the North is preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test.

Last week, Pyongyang threatened to “wipe out” Seoul authorities over a recent Covid-19 outbreak less than a month after leader Kim Jong-un said his country was “ready to mobilise” its nuclear capability in any war with the United States and the South.

Yoon on Wednesday said his administration had no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent, even as Pyongyang test-fired two cruise missiles on the same day. — AFP

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