North Korea’s state media rejected a proposal by South Korean president Lee Myung-bak for a fresh deal to end its nuclear arms programme in return for massive aid, which he called possibly Pyongyang’s last chance at survival.
South Korea and the United States have been consulting on a new and comprehensive package of incentives for the North that would consolidate measures to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions as laid out in a 2005 disarmament deal, which has stalled.
“The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula should be settled between (North Korea) and the US from every aspect as it is a product of the latter’s hostile policy toward the former,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said today
“(South Korean officials) are seriously mistaken if they calculate the DPRK would accept the ridiculous ‘proposal’ for ‘the normalization of relations’ with someone and for sort of ‘economic aid.'”
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Pittsburgh last week that the existing process to disarm the unpredictable communist state had been slow and frustrating.
“In order for us to really accurately assess North Korea’s true intent, that is the reason I proposed a grand bargain, whereby we will really have to deal with this in a one-shot deal and to try to bring about a fundamental resolution,” Lee said.
US and North Korean officials are expected to sit down for talks that could lead to the resumption of six-country nuclear negotiations, but Washington has warned that the discussions would not be a separate negotiation channel.
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in Seoul on Monday that US envoys would be willing to sit down with the North Koreans to help Pyongyang recommit to ending its nuclear programme and that he was optimistic.
“They’ve certainly given some indication that they understand the value of re-engagement and we would like to see them take advantage of that,” Steinberg said after meeting South Korean officials.
Steinberg said he backed Lee’s proposal for a condensed package deal to resolve the crisis.
“What we all agree is that we’ve lived through the history before of partial measures and reversible measures. What we need is a comprehensive and definitive resolution of the nuclear question,” he said.
Pic: North Korea troops