N. Korea dismisses US offer of aid for disbanding nuclear programs

News and Press Release
Originally published
Kate Pound Dawson
Hong Kong

15 Jan 2003, 16:08 UTC - A North Korean Foreign Ministry statement rejects President Bush's offer to consider aid to the country if Pyongyang renounces its nuclear programs.

North Korea's state news agency says offers of dialogue from Washington are intended to "mislead world public opinion."

A statement late Wednesday from North Korea's Foreign Ministry brushes off President Bush's comments that he would consider new aid programs to North Korea, once it gives up its nuclear programs. The statement says the United States is making the offer only if North Korea completely disarms.

This latest comment comes as Washington confers with U.S. allies and North Korea's neighbors, in a effort to resolve growing concerns about Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

White House officials characterized Wednesday's Pyongyang statement as "unfortunate."

In October, U.S. officials said North Korea had admitted to having a banned program to build nuclear bombs. In response, the United States and its allies cut off fuel aid to the impoverished Stalinist state.

Since then, Pyongyang has started to reopen an idled nuclear plant, kicked out international nuclear monitors and threatened to restart missile tests.

A Reuters news agency translation of Wednesday's statement indicates that Pyongyang had attempted to talk with the United States through what was termed a "New York channel." Pyongyang, however, concluded that the United States, in the words of the statement, "had nothing to say about the resumption of dialogue."