North Korea defector said to have 'enormous number of parasites'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a factory in this undated

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a factory in this undated

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has reiterated its call to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons as it expressed "grave concern" over North Korea's missile tests, saying these "seriously threaten peace and stability" in the region.

Today (Friday), North Korea's Ambassador to the UN Han Tae-song claimed that his country won't negotiate with the United States as long as the military cooperation between the US and South Korea continues.

Visiting Seoul last week, US President Donald Trump warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of American military power to stop any attack, but also urged Pyongyang to "make a deal".

"If Washington does not give it up, we will not budge by an inch from the path to strengthening our nuclear force", the newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea said.

North Korean defectors often come over to South Korea with parasites, in one case with more than 30 types of ringworm.

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"We believe that the freeze-for-freeze initiative is the most viable and reasonable plan against the current backdrop, which can not only alleviate the current tensions, but also addresses the most urgent security concerns of all sides", Geng told reporters at a regular briefing.

China and Russian Federation have proposed the agreement, also known as "dual suspension", as a way to restart long-stalled negotiations.

The last North Korean missile test was carried out nearly two months ago, but U.S. officials say they have seen no signs that Pyongyang has stopped development. "I stress that it's only the first step, not the end".

North Korea has not commented on the defection. Experts say the risks of backtracking are also asymmetrical. A further 4-5 percent of North Korea's 24 million people serve on active military duty, and another 30 percent are assigned to a reserve or paramilitary unit, according to the US Office of Secretary of Defense.

China is the main economic backer of the North Korean regime, accounting for most of its official foreign trade.

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Speaking on his return from Asia on Wednesday, Trump said he and Xi had rejected a "freeze for freeze" agreement, but it was not clear if he was referring to the "dual suspension" idea, which China's foreign minister announced in March.

Later Thursday, the US appeared to notch a victory in its efforts concerning North Korea, after the State Department announced that Sudan would cut all military and trade ties to North Korea.

"My country will continue to build-up its self-defence capability, the pivot of which is nuclear forces and capability for a triumphant...strike as long as USA and hostile forces keep up nuclear threat and blackmail", he said.

Information for this article was contributed by Liu Yang, Amber Ziye Wang and Yuki Oda of The Washington Post and by Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee of The Associated Press.

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