North Korea lays out conditions for negotiations

Pyongyang, April 18 (IANS) North Korea Thursday listed conditions for resuming talks with Washington and Seoul amid festering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s National Defense Commission urged the US and South Korea to stop provocations, fully apologize for their aggressions, and give assurances not to carry out nuclear war games designed to intimidate it, according to the official KCNA news agency.

It also urged Washington and Seoul to withdraw nuclear weapons stationed in and around South Korea, and refrain from redeploying them, if they want to reopen negotiations with Pyongyang, reported Xinhua.

The statement followed months of tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the UN Security Council imposed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang last month after it conducted a third nuclear test in February.

The US and South Korea have since carried out intensive war games in and around South Korea, including sending B-52 strategic heavy bombers and B-2 stealth bombers to South Korea, apparently in a show of force.

These moves have led North Korea to make repeated threats of war, which spooked many in and outside the region.

The statement noted that though the US and South Korea have expressed the willingness to defuse the crisis through negotiations and diplomatic efforts, they have set pre-conditions for restarting talks with Pyongyang.

On April 11, US President Barack Obama urged North Korea to end its “belligerent approach”, saying that the US will continue to try to work to resolve the North Korean issues “diplomatically”.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Seoul hoped to resolve the political deadlock with its northern neighbour through dialogue and would provide humanitarian aids to Pyongyang.

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