Covid curbs may be why North Korea is mum on vaccine offer: US official

SeoulEdited By: Manas JoshiUpdated: May 22, 2022, 03:52 PM IST
main img

In this combination of file photos, US President Joe Biden can be seen along with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Photograph:(Agencies)

Story highlights

This statement from a US official has come just a day after US President Joe Biden said that he had offered vaccines to North Korea

Covid restrictions may be one of the reasons why North Korea was not giving any response to offers of diplomatic talks, said an unnamed US administration official quoted by Reuters.

This statement has come just a day after US President Joe Biden said that he had offered vaccines to North Korea. 

Biden on Saturday said that America "got no response" from North Korea over its offer of vaccines. There is a spiralling epidemic in North Korea currently and 2.5 million people have fallen sick with "fever".

"We've offered vaccines, not only to North Korea but to China as well, and we're prepared to do that immediately," he said at a press conference in Seoul. 

"We've got no response," he added.

Earlier this month, North Korea reported its first case of Omicron and despite a "maximum emergency" epidemic campaign, the virus has torn through its unvaccinated 25 million population.

On Saturday, North Korean state media reported nearly 2.5 million people had been sick with "fever", with 66 confirmed deaths since the outbreak started. 

It added that the country had "intensified" its anti-epidemic campaign.

Biden and new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed concern Saturday over North Korea's spiralling Covid-19 outbreak.

"The ROK and the US are willing to work with the international community to provide assistance to the DPRK to combat the virus," they said in a joint statement.

Yoon said the offer of aid was being made according to "humanitarian principles, separate from political and military issues" with Pyongyang.

(With inputs from agencies)