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North Korea

North Korea sets conditions for talks with US, South Korea

North Korea has laid out conditions for talks with the US and Seoul following weeks of escalating tensions. It’s demanded that all sanctions against it are dropped and the US and South Korea cease "acts of aggression."

epa03644057 A picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 29 March 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convening an urgent operation meeting at 0:30 am on 29 March 2013 at an undisclosed location, in which he ordered strategic rocket forces to be on standby to strike US and South Korean targets at any time. Kim's order followed two US stealth bombers' first-ever drill over the Korean Peninsula the previous day. The North berated the drill as US hostility against it. EPA/KCNA SOUTH KOREA OUT NO SALES

Nordkorea erklärt Kriegszustand

North Korea aired its demands on Thursday in a statement carried by the nation's official KCNA news agency.

"If the United States and the puppet South have the slightest desire to avoid the sledge-hammer blow of our army and the people ... and truly wish dialogue and negotiations, they must make the resolute decision," the North's National Defense Commission said.

"Firstly, the sanctions resolutions by the UN Security Council that were fabricated with unjust reasons must be withdrawn," the North's top military body added.

"Second, you need to tell the whole world that you will not get involved in any rehearsal for a nuclear war that threatens our nation. Dialogue and war games can never go together."

The conditions will almost certainly be rejected by both South Korea and the United States.

Pyongyang itself turned down a conditional offer for talks issued by South Korea's new president, Park Geun-Hye four days ago, saying it lacked sincerity. The offer was backed by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his Northeast Asian tour, which ended Monday.

Both leaders stressed that talks were dependent on the North agreeing to "change its ways" and honoring previous international disarmament agreements.

The latest offer comes at a time of heightened nuclear rhetoric in the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has warned of attacks against the US, South Korea and Japan in recent weeks following new UN sanctions imposed in response to North Korea's third nuclear test in February.

ccp/mz (AFP, Reuters, AP)