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S. Korea willing to discuss N.K. demands in return for denuclearization: official

North Korea 15:12 November 22, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry reiterated its calls Tuesday for North Korea to return to denuclearization talks, saying its demands can be "discussed" through negotiations.

On Monday, the ministry unveiled an official booklet detailing the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's stated "audacious" proposal designed to help Pyongyang improve its economy in exchange for denuclearization. The booklet outlined a three-stage road map that promises economic incentives to the North, ranging from food and aid exchange programs to inter-Korean trade and investments.

"The 'audacious initiative' is an open proposal and since it includes discussing issues that the North is concerned with based on reciprocity, we will also discuss the North's demands if it refrains from criticizing the South and presents its demands in detail," a ministry official told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

The official also stressed the proposed plan differs from the "denuclearization first and compensation later" policy, saying that Seoul will start programs to help improve the livelihood of North Koreans without any preconditions if the North returns to the negotiating table.

In August, Yoon publicly proposed the initiative to North Korea, but the regime has rejected the proposal as "absurd," vowing not to trade its nuclear arsenal for economic aid.

S. Korea willing to discuss N.K. demands in return for denuclearization: official - 1

Earlier, the use of the expression "U.S.-North Korea relations" in the booklet -- placing the U.S. before the North -- had also sparked speculations that the ministry decided to officially use the phrase instead of the more commonly used "North Korea-U.S. relations," in an apparent reflection of the Yoon administration's emphasis on its alliance with Washington.

In a press release, the ministry, however, dismissed the claim, saying it has not officially decided on the use of the expression and that the phrases are used interchangeably.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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