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(LEAD) Seoul's 'audacious plan' entirely consistent with U.S. approach toward N. Korea: State

North Korea 04:38 August 23, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks from department spokesperson, additional background in last 5 paras)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's offer to help North Korea in exchange for denuclearization is entirely consistent with the United States' own plan to rid the North of its nuclear ambition, a state department spokesperson said Monday.

Ned Price also called on Pyongyang to respond positively to Seoul's outreach.

"We have been clear about our support for the bold or the ambitious plan that the South Korean administration has put forward," the department press secretary said in a daily press briefing.

U.S. Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price is seen answering questions during a press briefing in Washington on Aug. 22, 2022 in this image captured from the department's website. (Yonhap)

"It's a plan that's entirely consistent with our approach to the DPRK's nuclear weapons program, to its ballistic missile program in that it sees the potential for practical, incremental advancements towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," added Price.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

The remarks come after Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, rejected South Korea's offer to help improve the North Korean economy in exchange for denuclearization.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol offered last week to launch aid programs for the impoverished North as long as the country showed its commitment to denuclearize.

Kim Yo-jong dismissed the offer as absurd, adding the North would never sit face-to-face with the Yoon administration to discuss its denuclearization.

Price said the U.S. and its allies will continue to reach out to Pyongyang for dialogue.

"We have seen periods of engagements from the DPRK. We have seen periods of provocation from the DPRK. It's very clear that we are in a period that has been characterized by the latter," said he.

"We are going to continue to be clear about what we are prepared to do and what we seek collectively to achieve with our South Korean allies, with our Japanese allies, and we will continue to convey those messages both publicly and directly to the DPRK," he added.

The department spokesperson also urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

"We have conveyed publicly, we have also conveyed repeatedly, privately to the DPRK that we are ready and willing to engage in that dialogue and diplomacy. The DPRK has more recently heard that same message from the new administration in South Korea," said Price.

"We believe it is incumbent on the DPRK to respond and to respond affirmatively to that, knowing that, believing that we can achieve progress towards what is a collective goal," he added.

North Korea has avoided denuclearization talks since late 2019.

The country is widely believed to be preparing to conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test.


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