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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 03:24 GMT 04:24 UK
N Korea calls for US peace treaty

A North Korean soldier (L) looks at a South Korea soldier standing guard at the Panmunjom truce village
52 years on, North and South Korea are still technically at war
North Korea has called for a peace treaty with the US, ahead of the resumption of talks aimed at ending the stand-off over its nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang said in a statement that a full treaty replacing the armistice signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953 was needed to resolve the crisis.

The North has made similar calls in the past, but peace negotiations quickly became bogged down.

Six-nation talks are due to resume in Beijing on Tuesday.

North Korea walked out of the talks in February 2004, and has since admitted stockpiling atomic weapons.

The North has in the past demanded a non-aggression pact with the US - but Washington refuses to talk about this until North Korea agrees to shut down its weapons programme.

Replacing the cease-fire mechanism by a peace mechanism would... result in the denuclearisation of the peninsula"
North Korean foreign ministry
The Korean War ended with an armistice - not a peace treaty - and thus the peninsula is technically still at war.

The border between the North and the South is one of the world's most heavily armed.

List of demands

In a statement issued on Friday, North Korea's foreign ministry said: "Replacing the cease-fire mechanism by a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula would lead to putting an end to the US hostile policy" towards the North.

It added that a peace treaty would "automatically result in the denuclearisation of the peninsula".

Yongbyon plant, North Korea
N Korea announced earlier this month that it would return to talks
On Thursday a North Korean official had said that "not a single nuclear weapon will be needed for us if the US nuclear threat is removed".

He also demanded that Washington stay out of Pyongyang's "economic co-operation with other countries".

He then repeated calls for North Korea to be removed from a US list of states that sponsor terrorism, and that all sanctions against it be lifted.

The US has indicated that North Korea could face further sanctions if it fails to resolve the nuclear crisis, although it has stressed that it does not intend to attack the North.

North Korea agreed to return to talks after heavy international pressure.

Three rounds of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear capability were held in 2003 and 2004, but they were broken off amid North Korean complaints about "hostile" US policy.

The six countries involved are the two Koreas, China, the US, Japan and Russia.

There is concern that failure to make progress after three years of deadlock could lead to the collapse of diplomatic efforts, says the BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Charles Scanlon.




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