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    North Korea rejects Seoul’s aid offer as ‘height of absurdity’

    SEOUL (AFP) – The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday rejected Seoul’s offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearisation steps, calling it the “height of absurdity” and a deal Pyongyang would never accept.

    The statement follows South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol this week putting forward an “audacious” aid plan that would include food, energy and infrastructure help in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.

    Analysts previously said the chances of Pyongyang accepting such a deal – first floated during Yoon’s inaugural speech – were vanishingly slim, as the North, which invests an enormous chunk of its gross domestic product (GDP) into weapons programmes, has long made it clear it will not make that trade.

    Kim Jong-un’s sister Yo-jong yesterday called Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, claiming it was as realistic as creating “mulberry fields in the dark blue ocean”.

    “To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realise that he is really simple and still childish,” she said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency.

    Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, delivers a speech in Pyongyang, North Korea. PHOTO: AP

    She added that there would never be negotiations between the countries that used denuclearisation as a starting point. “No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she said.

    She also accused the South of recycling proposals the North had previously rejected.

    South Korea’s presidential office expressed “strong regret” over Yo Jong’s remarks, but added that the offer of economic aid remained in place.

    “North Korea’s attitude is in no way helpful to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula, as well as its own future, and only promotes isolation from the international community,” it said in a statement.

    The personal nature of Yo-jong’s attack against Yoon showed that relations would likely be “severely difficult” over the hawkish new president’s five-year term, Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

    “Yoon said North Korea’s denuclearisation is the very basis for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Yang said.

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