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North Korea calls for negotiations with the United States

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea calls for negotiations with the United States
North Korea issued a statement Sunday calling for “negotiations” with the United States. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

SEOUL, April 4 (UPI) -- One month after the adoption of sweeping sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is calling for negotiations with the United States.

Pyongyang issued a long statement through its National Defense Commission, calling for an end to hostilities, Yonhap reported.

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"Maintaining stability is more urgent than unilateral sanctions, and providing negotiations can find a better solution than reckless military pressure," North Korea said in the statement.

The statement marks a departure from the warmongering rhetoric from North Korea in February and March, when state media threatened to turn Seoul into "powder" and suggested South Korean President Park Geun-hye be assassinated.

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The statement also comes on the heels of tests of several short-range projectiles in March.

Officials in Seoul have said North Korea tested Scud and Rodong missiles, as leader Kim Jong Un provided field guidance at practices meant to target the South.

South Korea has not ruled out the possibilities of a fifth nuclear test.

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The North Korean statement, issued on Sunday, included the use of what South Korean media described as "unprecedented" words, including "stability" and "negotiation."

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Moon Sang-kyun, spokesman for Seoul's defense ministry, told reporters Monday the statement was "very long," but dismissed the call for talks with the United States. There has been a "gap between words and behavior" from the North in past instances, and therefore a lack of credibility in the statement, Moon said.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor of North Korean studies in Seoul, said the North is claiming that it hasn't felt the impact of sanctions while showing its "preparedness" for dialogue.

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The lengthy announcement is also likely a reflection of internal circumstances in North Korea in a run-up to the Seventh Party Congress, to be held in May.

The United States has said negotiations with North Korea are possible only if Pyongyang decides to turn away from its diplomatic and economic isolation and commits to denuclearization.

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