SEOUL — North Korea said today that drawing up a peace agreement to replace the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War would be a way to resolve the standoff over its nuclear weapons program.
A peace treaty would "lead to putting an end to the U.S. hostile policy toward [North Korea], which spawned the nuclear issue," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement. That would "automatically result in the denuclearization of the peninsula," he said.
The unnamed spokesman, quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency, said such a move would "give a strong impetus" to international nuclear disarmament talks set to resume Tuesday in Beijing.
It was unclear what effect the North's call for a pact could have on the six-nation talks. There was no immediate reaction from U.S. or South Korean officials.
The North's delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, left today for Beijing, KCNA reported.
The United States has refused to make any concessions until North Korea is certified as free of nuclear weapons, but the regime in Pyongyang insists that it get something first before it abandons its atomic program. South Korea said this month it had offered to provide energy aid to the North if Pyongyang agreed to disarm.
The two Koreas remain technically at war, and hundreds of thousands of troops face off across the border, although since 2000 the two countries have made efforts at reconciliation.