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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

N Korea willing to hold 'working-level contact' with South ahead of military talks

Iran Press TV

Sat May 21, 2016 4:8PM

North Korea's Defense Ministry said Saturday it was willing to hold "working-level contact" with the South Korean side ahead of the opening of Pyongyang-Seoul military talks.

"We propose to hold working-level contact for opening the north-south military authorities' talks at the date and place both sides deem convenient in late May or early June," the Defense Ministry was quoted as saying in a statement carried by state media.

The proposed working-level contact comes ahead of military talks between the two Koreas. It could "prevent in advance a second Korean war," the statement said.

The military dialogue had initially been offered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a speech to the congress of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party earlier this month. South Korea rejected the offer.

Pyongyang reiterated the offer on Friday, only to be rebuffed again by Seoul the same day.

On Saturday, North Korea pushed again for the preparatory meeting.

"It is an urgent matter directly related to the existence of the Korean nation to defuse the military tension and prevent in advance a second Korean war," the statement said.

In the meantime, Seoul has announced it will only consider engaging in substantive dialogue with the North on one condition: Pyongyang takes tangible steps toward denuclearization of its arsenal.

North Korea has repeatedly rejected the demand, saying its nuclear arsenal is not up for negotiation.

In May, Kim revealed that Pyongyang would continue its efforts in boosting North Korea's economic and military capacities.

"We will consistently take hold on the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and boost self-defensive nuclear force both in quality and quantity as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat and arbitrary practices," the North Korean leader said.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005. Pyongyang has conducted four nuclear weapons tests ever since.

Seoul is concerned about Pyongyang's nuclear capacity as relations between the North and South have been turbulent for decades. Tensions have escalated further in past years over joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul.

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