South Korea renews offer for North nuke disarmament

SEOUL: South Korea’s president today said he wants to achieve “genuine” reconciliation with North Korea through dialogue and renewed his offer of a package of incentives for the North’s nuclear disarmament.

The North has recently reached out to Seoul and Washington

following months of tension

over its nuclear and missile programme. A US State Department spokesman said on Friday that the North could rejoin international nuclear disarmament talks in coming weeks.

“For genuine reconciliation and cooperation ... South and North Korea must resolve many pending issues through a

dialogue,” President Lee

Myung-bak said in a nationally televised address marking Korea’s uprising against Japanese colonial rule in 1919.

North Korea “must discuss with sincerity the ‘grand bargain’ deal that we have offered,” Lee said.

Lee’s “grand bargain” would provide the North with a set of political incentives and economic aid in exchange for the irreversible dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme in a single step, rather than the step-by-step process pursued in the past.

The single-step process is aimed at preventing North Korea from backtracking on its commitments after receiving the aid.

“North Korea must show its sincerity to the international community with an action,” Lee said.

Later today, about 50 conservative activists staged an anti-Pyongyang rally in Seoul, chanting slogans like “Blow up North Korea’s nuclear facilities!” and burning the North’s national flags.