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N. Korea proposes senior-level talks

– North Korea on Sunday proposed wide-ranging “senior-level” talks with the United States, an offer it said Washington should accept without setting any “preconditions” about denuclearization.

North Korea’s proposal marked the latest attempt at reconciliation for a family-run police state that spent much of March and April making threats. In a statement issued by its state-run news agency and attributed to the National Defense Commission, a top policy body, North Korea said the talks should be used to defuse “military tensions,” draft a peace treaty for the peninsula, and discuss mutual denuclearization.

But analysts say an agreement for dialogue will be difficult because Pyongyang and Washington have fundamentally different views on what must happen before the sides sit down. The U.S. has made its own standing offer to North Korea for dialogue – but only if Pyongyang’s leadership first shows interest in giving up its small stockpile of nuclear weapons.

In its statement Sunday, North Korea said its weapons program would “go on and on without vacillation” unless the entire peninsula is denuclearized – meaning the U.S. removes all nuclear assets from the area. North Korea also called on the U.S. to drop all sanctions against it.

The State Department had no immediate reaction to Pyongyang’s offer. But on Friday, Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, said Washington will never accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.

Some analysts say this proposal could also be North Korea aiming to appease China, whose leaders have urged Pyongyang to rejoin international talks.

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