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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
N Korea asks South for more aid
By Charles Scanlon
BBC News, Seoul

Kwon Ho-ung, (L), the head of the North Korean delegation, shakes hands with South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, June 22, 2005.
The talks opened in a positive atmosphere
North Korea has requested more food aid from South Korea during ministerial talks in Seoul, the first for a year.

Officials also repeated a pledge to give up nuclear weapons if the US treated it in a friendly manner.

North Korea appears anxious to improve ties with its southern neighbour, amid growing pressure from the US over its development of nuclear weapons.

North Korea's chief delegate said his country would not need nuclear weapons if the US dropped its hostile policy.

But there were no new offers to follow up on similar comments by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, last week.

Split between allies

South Korean negotiators stressed that the nuclear confrontation needed to be resolved by dialogue.

But their main focus at these talks is to regularise intermittent contact with the North Koreans.

The South hopes that improved bilateral ties will eventually lead to progress on security issues.

Seoul is expected to respond favourable to the North's requests for desperately needed food aid and fertiliser for this year's crop.

Some analysts believe North Korea is trying to exploit tensions between Seoul and Washington, which wants tougher action on the nuclear issue.

South Korean officials have called on the US to be more flexible and to stop antagonising the North Korean leadership by describing it as a tyranny.

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