North Korea rejects Seoul's aid-for-denuclearization offer

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 19 2022 10:31 AM

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un (C), president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and supreme commander of the armed forces of the DPRK, during the test-launch of a new type of inter-continental ballistic missile Hwasongpho-17 of the DPRK strategic forces that was conducted on March 24, 2022. EPA-EFE/KCNA
A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows Kim Jong Un (C), president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and supreme commander of the armed forces of the DPRK, during the test-launch of a new type of inter-continental ballistic missile Hwasongpho-17 of the DPRK strategic forces that was conducted on March 24, 2022. EPA-EFE/KCNA

SEOUL — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday slammed Seoul's offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearization 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 program. 

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 programs, 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 program on the table was wrong. 

"To think that the plan to barter 'economic cooperation' for our honor, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realize 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 mobilize" 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 2 cruise missiles on the same day.

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