January 12, 2015 09:34
North Korea on Friday offered to suspend nuclear tests if Washington and Seoul cancel joint military exercises this year.
Pyongyang said the U.S. can "contribute to easing tension on the Korean Peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year," and North Korea "is ready to take such responsive step as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Saturday.
But the U.S. State Department flatly rejected the offer, calling it an "implicit threat."
It "inappropriately links routine U.S.-[South Korea] exercises to the possibility of a nuclear test by North Korea," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "A new nuclear test would be a clear violation of North Korea's obligations under multiple UN Security Council resolutions."
A South Korean Defense Ministry official also dismissed the matter. "The joint annual Seoul-Washington drills are basically for defense purposes and there's no reason to suspend them," he said.
Meanwhile, Kyodo News reported Saturday that North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong-ho will meet former U.S. government officials in Singapore in mid-January.
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