N Korea offers US talks over nuclear impasse

Proposal follows US refusal to end decades-old military drills with Seoul as condition to suspending nuclear tests.

North Korea is under an array of United Nations and US sanctions for repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests [EPA]

North Korea has offered holding talks with the United States in a renewed bid to sway Washington after it rejected Pyongyang’s proposal to suspend nuclear tests under the condition that annual US military drills with South Korea were put off.

North Korea’s deputy UN Ambassador An Myong Hun told a news conference on Tuesday at the United Nations that if Pyongyang’s proposal was accepted then “many things will be possible this year on the Korean Peninsula”, without elaborating.

On Saturday, the US state department called the offer by North Korea a veiled threat that inappropriately linked nuclear tests and the joint military exercises with South Korea that have been carried out for decades.

“The government of the DPRK (North Korea) is ready to explain its intention behind this proposal directly to the United States. We’re ready for that if the United States wants additional explanation about our proposal,” An told reporters.

An said the “meaningful and significant proposal” was made on Friday through “appropriate channels”.

“By refusing to accept our proposal … the United States has shown once again that they will continue to increase military capabilities in South Korea while requesting us not to have our own national defense capabilities. This is absolutely unacceptable and cannot be justified by anything,” he said.

North Korea is under an array of United Nations, US and other national sanctions for repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests since 2006 in defiance of international demands to stop.

It often promises to call off nuclear and missile tests in return for comparable steps by Washington to ease tensions. It
reached such a deal in February 2012 with the United States for an arms tests moratorium only to scrap it two months later.

The United States and South Korea have said the annual military drills are purely defensive, aimed at testing the  allies’ readiness to confront any North Korean aggression.

Earlier on Tuesday, Assistant US Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said the United States has no problem talking with North Korea.

“But talking is not negotiating. And our insistence is that North Korea come to the table prepared to honor its obligations and commitments, prepared to take meaningful steps that constitute credible and authentic negotiations,” he said.

Source: News Agencies