Obama rejects North Korean offer to halt nuclear programme

In a rare overture, Pyongyang said it would cease nuclear tests if US stops joint military drills with South Korea.

US President Barack Obama has rejected North Korea's offer to suspend its nuclear programme in exchange of US halting its joint military drills with South Korea.

Obama said on Sunday he does not take the proposal seriously, adding that Pyongyang would "have to do better than that," BBC reported.

Speaking at a news conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, Obama said the West has consistently asked for a serious approach from Pyongyang.

"We don't take seriously a promise to simply halt until the next time they decide to do a test these kinds of activities. What we've said consistently is that if North Korea shows seriousness in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, then we'll be prepared to enter into some serious conversations with them about reducing tensions and our approach to protecting our allies in the region.

In a rare overture on Saturday, North Korea's foreign minister Ri Su Yong said his country would cease its nuclear tests if war exercises in the Korean peninsula are stopped.

The minister, however, vouched for Pyongyang's right to develop what it describes as 'nuclear deterrence' and warned that international sanctions cannot smother its defence strategy.

However, Obama dismissed the move saying an agreement is not something that happens based on a press release in the wake of a series of provocative behaviors.

"They're going to have to do better than that," the president said.

North Korea made the offer immediately after it successfully fired a ballistic missile from a submarine. Pyongyang poised the missile test as a defensive counterbalancing saying the escalation of this military exercise level has reached its top level.

"As the other side is going for the climax why not us, too, to that level as well? Ri asked.

Ri said if both sides remain on the path of confrontation, "very catastrophic results" would unfold not just for the region but he whole world.

"It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK and as an expression of this stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un declared last month his country successfully tested a simulated nuclear warhead re-entry and that it will soon test launch ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warhead.

Kim also ordered more nuclear tests in the latest in a series of provocative actions and

posturing North Korea adopted after the UN imposed the toughest sanctions on it for its nuclear tests and ballistic missile programme.

It intensified its missile programme in the wake of the joint annual military drills conducted by the US and South Korea, conducting the test firing of several missiles.

North Korea denounces the joint military exercises as 'war games' intended to subvert the regime.