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(LEAD) N.K. diplomat urged U.S. to make 'right choice' for 'way out': Seoul official

2017/10/24 14:54

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(ATTN: ADDS more comments, info in 9-12th para)

SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean diplomat who recently joined a conference in Moscow called for the United States to drop its hostile policy and make the "right choice" of recognizing it as a nuclear-armed state, saying that it would lead to a "way out" from the current stalemate, a foreign ministry source here said Tuesday.

Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, made the remarks during a closed-door session of the two-day conference held last week in Moscow, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"The North will never give up its nuclear weapons as long as the U.S.' hostile policy, including military activities, sanctions and pressure, continue," he quoted Choe as saying.

"If the U.S. makes the right choice, such as abandoning its hostile policy and moving to coexist with a nuclear DPRK, there will be a way out," she said, according to the official.

DPRK is the abbreviation of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Choe reiterated that the North made the "strategic decision" to possess nuclear weapons to deter the military threat from the U.S., saying that it is the only way to maintain its security and peace both on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region, he added.

Asked what steps the U.S. should take to give up its hostile policy, Choe cited U.S. President Donald Trump's recent threatening tweets against the North, saying that it is the reason why the North cannot come to the negotiating table.

Choe also said that the North is "not committed" to the Sept. 19 joint statement under which the North promised to give up its nuclear programs in exchange for diplomatic and economic concessions, and that it will not be going back to the long-suspended six-party denuclearization talks, the official said.

"For a diplomatic and peaceful resolution, the correct atmosphere should be created, but at a time when there are daily threatening tweets from President Trump, the North cannot sit down for talks," she was quoted as saying.

Choe didn't dismiss the importance of multilateral efforts altogether, but as the U.S. is leading efforts to crush the North to death, she said that the North doesn't see how other countries could play any role, according to the official.

"North Korea will not be moving an inch," she said, if the U.S. keeps up its push to lead the North toward collapse.

The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan started in 2003 to persuade the North to give up its nuclear aspirations. However, discussions have not been held since late 2008, when the North walked away from the negotiating table.

Choe joined the conference amid tensions that have heightened since the North defiantly conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test last month.

It was attended by diplomats, former government officials and private-sector experts from around 40 countries. As South Korea sent its deputy nuclear envoy to the event, it raised expectations that there could be contact of some kind between the two Koreas, but nothing meaningful was arranged.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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