N Korea to U.S. through the southern neighbour: nuclear weapons for friendship

A North Korean delegation visiting South Korean capital Seoul said the isolated country wouldn't need nuclear weapons if the United States treated it like a friend.

The comments followed a pledge by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who met Friday with South Korean officials and said North Korea could return to nuclear disarmament talks as soon as next month if it gets appropriate respect from Washington, reports AP.

The conciliatory gesture, after a year of deadlock in six-country talks on the North's nuclear programs, have raised hope for a breakthrough, but Washington has played it down, saying Pyongyang was simply trying to buy time, states Reuters.

Earlier on Wednesday North and South Korea began their 15th round of ministerial talks on improving ties after a year of deadlock. South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young asked North Korea to help the Red Cross confirm the fate of South Korean POWs and abductees and prepare by video link for a fresh round of reunions of separated families, says Chosun Ilbo, South Korean daily.

During the talks South Korea urged North Korea to return to six-party negotiations on the North Korea's nuclear program next month. The talks involve China, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese party's international liaison department, believes the North wants to resume the six-party talks and it could happen in July, but patience is needed – the exact date could be called only with “the efforts of all the sides”, runs Reuters.

Nevertheless, the North Korean delegation made no comment about a call from Chung Dong-young to restart six-party talks and discuss the nuclear dispute during inter-Korean ministerial talks, reports Chosun Ilbo.

North Korea still appears to BBC anxious to improve ties with its southern neighbour, amid growing pressure from the US over its development of nuclear weapons. According to BBC, analysts consider North Korea as trying to exploit tensions between South Korea and U.S., which wants tougher action on the nuclear issue.

On the photo: Chung Dong-young

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