North Korea Monday proposed negotiating a peace treaty to replace the truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The foreign ministry in Pyongyang also demanded the lifting of UN sanctions against North Korea before stalled six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programme could resume.
A peace treaty must be finalised for trust to be built between North Korea and the US, the ministry argued in a statement released by the state-run media.
It also said that the establishment of such trust would also help the six-nation nuclear talks.
“The conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and positively promote the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula at a rapid tempo,” the statement said, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“If confidence is to be built between the DPRK and the US, it is essential to conclude a peace treaty for terminating the state of war, a root cause of the hostile relations, to begin with,” it said.
The statement was issued after North Korea said in a New Year’s message that improved relations with the US was a top goal in 2010, and was needed “for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia”.
Both the US and North Korea are involved in the nuclear talks with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. The negotiations have been stalled since late 2008. North Korea unilaterally pulled out of the talks last year, expelled international inspectors and restarted its plutonium factory before conducting its second nuclear test in May.
In past weeks, however, North Korea has repeatedly declared itself ready to return to the nuclear talks without naming a date for their resumption.
North and South Korea are still technically at war since an armistice and not a peace treaty brought the conflict to an end. The truce was signed by the UN, represented by the US, on one side and North Korea and China on the other.
North Korea did not say Monday whether it thought South Korea should also take part in the proposed talks on the peace treaty.