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N. Korea suggests high-level talks with United States

June 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM   |   Comments

PYONGYANG, North Korea, June 15 (UPI) -- North Korea switched gears from saber-rattling to diplomacy Sunday, suggesting it is open to high-level discussions with the United States.

"[We] propose high-level talks between the North Korean and U.S. governments to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and establish regional peace and security," a spokesman for the North's powerful National Defense Commission said in what Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency called an "important statement."

"If [the United States] is truly interested in easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and securing peace and security in the region, including the U.S. mainland, it should not speak about holding talks or making contact on the basis of pre-conditions," the KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported the spokesman said the agenda for the talks could include a permanent peace treaty to end the 1950s Korean War and the U.S. goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

"The U.S. can decide on the meeting's venue and time at its own convenience," the spokesman said. "All developments depend on the responsible choice of the United States, which has worsened the situation on the Korean Peninsula until now."

The overture follows North Korea's incendiary language after proposed ministerial-level peace negotiations with South Korea failed to materialize, diplomats said.

The negotiations were a product of a working group's proposal but barely got out of the starting gate following a breakdown during delegation nominations, the International Business Times reported Saturday.

North Korea, using a state-run newspaper, said the South's "reckless" military training with the United States would lead to all-out war on the peninsula.

"As long as the United States and South Korean puppets continue with nuclear threats and threats of war against us, we will ... strengthen nuclear deterrence through every possible means," the newspaper said.

The North had quieted its threats over the past few weeks amid the peace talks, after conducting a third nuclear test earlier this year despite harsh rhetoric from the West and the North's ally, China, not to do so.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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