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N. Korea Offers to Halt Nuclear Tests in Exchange for Peace Treaty

  • VOA News

FILE - People watch a TV news program showing North Korea's announcement of a hydrogen bomb test, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 6, 2016.

FILE - People watch a TV news program showing North Korea's announcement of a hydrogen bomb test, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 6, 2016.

North Korea says it will stop conducting nuclear tests in exchange for a peace treaty with the United States and an end to joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul.

The proposal, published in North Korea's state media late Friday, is similar to previous offers by Pyongyang that have been quickly rejected by the U.S. and South Korea.

"Still valid are all proposals for preserving peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia, including the ones for ceasing our nuclear test and the conclusion of a peace treaty in return for a U.S. halt to joint military exercises," said a newsreader on Pyongyang's state-run KRT TV, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

US reaction

When asked about the proposal at a briefing Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said he had not heard about the offer.

"But look, we have significant alliance commitments with the Republic of Korea that we take very, very seriously, and we’re going to continue to make sure that the alliance is ready in all respects to act in defense of the South Korean people and the security of the peninsula," Kirby said.

FILE - People watch a news report on North Korea's first hydrogen bomb test at a railroad station in Seoul on Jan. 6, 2016.

FILE - People watch a news report on North Korea's first hydrogen bomb test at a railroad station in Seoul on Jan. 6, 2016.

North Korea last week conducted its fourth nuclear test, prompting near universal condemnation and further raising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The test was the focus of a meeting Saturday in Seoul between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Lim Sung-nam.

"We face a significant challenge, but we face it together, in solidarity, and we're grateful for the partnership between the United States and South Korea," Blinken said.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that seeks to deny the Pyongyang government the hard currency it needs for its nuclear weapons program by imposing stronger sanctions.

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