‘US vax support to N.Korea could help revive nuke talks’

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Park Jie-won, head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, on Monday said that Washington’s possible proposal to provide Covid-19 vaccines to Pyongyang could serve help revive the long-stalled nuclear negotiations between the two nations.

“I believe that if the US rather more audaciously proposes providing its vaccines, momentum could be created to bring North Korea back to talks,” Yonhap News Agency quoted the intel chief as saying at a forum in Seoul.

North Korea has imposed a strict border lockdown since last year and claims to be coronavirus-free.

The COVAX Facility, a global vaccine distribution platform, has assigned around 6.7 million doses of vaccines to the North, but Pyongyang remains unresponsive to the proposed vaccine assistance.

Park said the North could be discontented about not getting any return for maintaining its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests for the past four years.

“The US expressing interest in some way on lifting sanctions related to the livelihoods of (North Korean) people — such as refined oil imports, coal and mineral exports and daily necessities imports — could be a clue to resume talks for the peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Park again urged Pyongyang to respond to calls for dialogue on issues of mutual interest, including Seoul’s push to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, and said the “hostile policy” and “double standards” could be among the agenda items.

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