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(LEAD) Gov't to create condition for N. Korea to accept 'audacious' offers, minister says

All News 14:14 August 18, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with foreign minister's remarks, unification minister's additional comments in last paras; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) -- The Yoon Suk-yeol administration will strive to create a condition for North Korea to embrace the "audacious initiative" intended to support its economic development for its denuclearization steps, Seoul's point man on Pyongyang told lawmakers Thursday.

Unification Minister Kwon Young-se said the government plans to send more specific messages to the North, going forward, and have related consultations with such other major countries concerned as the United States and China.

In his speech to mark the 77th Liberation Day on Monday, Yoon unveiled some details of the plan, one of his key campaign pledges, to help the impoverished North develop its economy in return for taking steps toward denuclearization. He made offers of a bold program of economic assistance, development, and infrastructure investment.

Speaking at a National Assembly session, Kwon described it as a "bold and comprehensive initiative, which includes economic, political, and military corresponding measures, in accordance with the tangible progress of North Korea's denuclearization."

He added that the government will make preparations for relevant talks with Pyongyang through inter-agency cooperation and focus efforts on drumming up support from other nations.

The Kim Jong-un regime has not responded formally to the conservative South Korean president's overtures. It instead test-fired two cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, according to the South's military.

Unification Minister Kwon Young-se (R) and Foreign Minister Park Jin attend a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 18, 2022. (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Park Jin also said during the session that his ministry will try to restart denuclearization talks with the North on the basis of coordination with Washington and cooperate closely with the international community with regard to the implementation of the "audacious initiative."

He reaffirmed a determination to seek not just new U.N. Security Council sanctions but also Seoul's own punitive measures against Pyongyang in case it presses ahead with another nuclear test.

Both Kwon and Park agreed that the secretive North seems to have completed preparations for what would be its seventh nuclear experiment.

Kwon said if done, it could be linked with a program to miniaturize nuclear warheads and added the government is analyzing the reason why the Kim regime has not carried it out yet.

The top diplomat said the North appears to be weighing the "most favorable timing" to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017.

"It is necessary to make a consistent policy push through sanctions and pressure to dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear weapons," Park said. "(The government) will make efforts in a comprehensive and multidimensional way to resolve the problem via dialogue and diplomacy."


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