North Korea Calls For US Peace Treaty Ahead of Disarmament Talks

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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North Korea is calling for a peace treaty officially ending the Korean War, as one of its senior diplomats visits the U.S. to discuss efforts to restart six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said a peace agreement could help resolve the deadlock over its nuclear ambitions and ease tensions on the Korean peninsula. The report was issued Wednesday — the 58th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

Meanwhile, North Korea's first vice minister and former chief nuclear negotiator is in New York for talks with officials on the future of stalled disarmament talks.

Kim Kye Gwan told reporters on his arrival Tuesday that he is optimistic that North Korean ties with the United States will improve, adding that “now is the time for all countries to reconcile.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was less enthusiastic when she announced Kim's visit last week. She said Washington has no appetite for lengthy negotiations with North Korea that would only lead back to the starting point.

The United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea have been negotiating with impoverished North Korea for eight years to get it to give up its nuclear arms programs in exchange for food, energy and aid. Pyongyang has abandoned these talks several times, most recently in 2009 when it conducted its second nuclear test.

Last year, a series of hostilities between North and South Korea created the worst tensions on the peninsula since the Korean War.

This year, Pyongyang has appealed to the United States and the United Nations for food aid, and has signaled that it wants to return to the aid-for-disarmament talks.

But other parties in the six-nation talks say there is no point in resuming negotiations before tensions between the two Koreas ease.