South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday offered North Korea “audacious” economic aid if it abandons its nuclear weapons program, while avoiding harsh criticism from the North for days, accusing the South of COVID-19. The outbreak of -19 had threatened “deadly” retaliation. ,

In a speech celebrating the end of Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula, Yoon called for better relations with Japan, calling on the two countries’ partners to face challenges to independence and saying that their shared values ​​would bring them to Japan. It would help to address the historical grievances associated with the brutal colonial rule of India. before the end of World War II.

Yoon’s televised speech on the liberation holiday came days after North Korea claimed a widely disputed victory over COVID-19, but also blamed Seoul for its outbreak. The North insisted that leaflets and other objects blown across the border by activists spread the virus, an unscientific claim Seoul describes as “ridiculous”.

North Korea has a history of pressuring the South when it doesn’t get what it wants from the United States, and there are concerns that North Korea’s threats reflect a provocation, possibly leading to a nuclear or major missile test or even Even maybe. Border clashes. Some experts say North Korea could escalate tensions over a joint military exercise by the United States and South Korea starting next week.

The conservative Yun, who took office in May, said North Korea’s denuclearization would be important for peace in the region and the world. Yoon said that if North Korea halts the development of its nuclear weapons and is truly committed to the process of denuclearization, the South will respond with huge economic rewards that will be awarded in phases.

Yoon’s proposal was not meaningfully different from previous South Korean proposals, which had already been rejected by North Korea, which used its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program leader Kim Jong Un as the strongest guarantee of its existence. Intensifying efforts to expand arms.

Yoon said, “We will implement a massive program to provide food, provide support for the establishment of infrastructure for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, and modernize ports and airports to facilitate trade.” projects to be completed.”

“We will help improve North Korea’s agricultural production, provide support to modernize its hospitals and medical infrastructure, and take initiatives to allow for international investment and financial support,” he said. Such programs would “greatly improve” North Korean life.

Inter-Korean relations have deteriorated amid a standoff in major nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang, which derailed in early 2019 over disagreements over the release of US-led sanctions against the North’s disarmament moves. Had gone.

North Korea has ramped up its test activity in 2022, having launched more than 30 ballistic missiles so far, including the first demonstration of intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017. Experts say Kim intends to exploit the favorable environment to advance his weapons program. The United Nations Security Council became divided and effectively paralyzed over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Experts say North Korea’s unusually fast pace in the weapons display is also aimed at forcing Washington to accept North Korea’s idea of ​​a nuclear power and negotiate badly-off economic benefits and security concessions. underlines instability. The US and South Korean governments have also said that the North is gearing up to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a nuclear bomb designed for its ICBMs.

Faced with growing threats from North Korea, Yoon has vowed to strengthen South Korea’s defense with his alliance with the United States and strengthen security ties with Japan, which is involved in the North’s nuclear and ballistic weapons program. Worried about as well.

South Korea’s relationship with Japan decreased to a post-war low over the past several years as countries allowed their grievances over history to expand to other areas, including trade and military cooperation.

While Yun has called for future-oriented cooperation with Japan, history may continue to hinder relations. Countries have struggled to negotiate a solution after Japanese companies overruled South Korean court decisions in recent years to compensate South Koreans who were subjected to wartime industrial slavery, a An issue that could lead to further diplomatic breakdown as a result of the forced sale of companies. local property.

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