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North Korean envoy rejects Trump overture to meet leader

Reuters logo Reuters 24/05/2016 By Stephanie Nebehay

File photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, in this still image taken from video released by Kyodo April 9, 2014. North Korea on Wednesday announced its leader Kim was re-elected as First Chairman of the ruling National Defence Commission at the meeting of its assembly. Mandatory credit © REUTERS/Kyodo File photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, in this still image taken from video released by Kyodo April 9, 2014. North Korea on Wednesday announced its leader Kim was re-elected as First Chairman of the ruling National Defence Commission at the meeting of its assembly. Mandatory credit GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a "kind of propaganda or advertisement" in the election race, a senior North Korean official said on Monday.

Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in New York last week, said he is willing to talk to the North Korean leader to try to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program, proposing a major shift in U.S. policy toward the isolated nation.

"It is up to the decision of my Supreme Leader whether he decides to meet or not, but I think his (Trump's) idea or talk is nonsense," So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said told Reuters on return from Pyongyang after attending the first ruling party congress in 36 years.

"It's for utilisation of the presidential election, that's all. A kind of a propaganda or advertisement," he added. "This is useless, just a gesture for the presidential election."

North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February, triggering tougher international sanctions.

So, who is also North Korea's ambassador to the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament, reiterated that his country was prepared to return to stalled six-party talks on its nuclear programme. China and Russia backed the idea, but the United States and its allies South Korea and Japan reject it, he said.

"As a responsible nuclear state ... we never use them first," So said. "If the United States use their nuclear weapons first, then we have to use also that one."

But he added: "As a responsible nuclear state, we keep and observe the obligations of non-proliferation of nuclear technology". (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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