FM Chung calls for 'snap-back' incentives to bring N. Korea back to dialogue

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) — The United States and South Korea should actively consider offering conditional incentives to North Korea to bring the regime back to denuclearization talks, Seoul’s top diplomat has said.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong made the remark during a discussion in New York on Wednesday (local time) as Seoul and Washington have been exploring ways to reengage with North Korea to break the impasse in the nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

South Korea and the U.S. have been looking at possible humanitarian assistance to the North in such areas as public health, antivirus quarantines, sanitation and clean water.

“We shouldn’t be timid on offering North Korea incentives if those incentives can be snapped back at the first sign of noncompliance. We can do it. We can make such an arrangement,” Chung said during the session hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. He was accompanying President Moon Jae-in to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

“It is very important that we show North Koreans that they have concrete things to gain, if they sit with us, if they come back to the negotiating table,” he said.

Chung noted South Korea and the U.S. have been fully coordinating on the strategy to engage with Pyongyang and the humanitarian assistance can be a starting point.

“Then we can move on to confidence building measures, like an announcement of the end-of-war declaration, and then we should consider presenting windows to relax sanctions, depending on their actions,” he said.

During his U.N. speech Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in proposed the two Koreas and the United States, probably joined by China, declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Regarding the North’s recent test-launches of short-range ballistic missiles and a long-range cruise missile, Chung said he does not see them as “seriously provocative,” as the North has maintained its moratorium not to carry out nuclear and long-range ballistic missiles tests since late 2017.

“I don’t mean that we should reward them for what they have not been doing, but as incentives, we hope we can find some ways to ease the sanctions,” Chung said.

This image captured from Zoom shows South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong speaking during a session hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, on Sept. 22, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)