North Korea calls for end to US hostilities

SEOUL: North Korea today called for an end to hostile relations with the United States, vowing to work towards a nuclear-free peninsula seven months after its last atomic test angered the world community.

The call was made in a policy-setting New Year joint editorial of the communist country’s state newspapers. North Korean people must learn and memorise the editorial, which is seen as ideological guidance for the year ahead.

“The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK (North Korea) and the USA,” the editorial said.

“It is the consistent stand of the DPRK to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations,” the editorial said, according to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea left six-party

nuclear disarmament talks in April to protest international censure over

its launch of a long-range rocket.

In May, it staged its second nuclear test since 2006.

US envoy Stephen Bosworth visited the communist nation last month and reached a “common understanding” on the need to resume the talks, which group the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. However, no date has been fixed.

In Washington, a State Department official said North Korea should demonstrate its good faith by returning to the six-party talks.

“Actions speak louder than words,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “A good step forward would be to return to six party talks.” South Korea’s unification ministry said this year’s editorial is distinctive in emphasising “dialogue and negotiations” as last year’s editorial reaffirmed its commitment to denuclearisation and peace without mentioning dialogue.

Analysts also said it indicated progress.

“This means that North Korea’s ordinary people will start being educated about Pyongyang’s push for an end to enmity with the US,” Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Dongguk University told AFP. Another professor, Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies, said the editorial indicates that Pyongyang will actively pursue dialogue this year, focusing on the conclusion of a peace treaty and nuclear disarmament.