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N Korea says sanctions must end before nuclear talks

North Korea today demanded an end to sanctions before it returns to nuclear disarmament negotiations, but gave the go-ahead for economic talks with South Korea despite earlier threats to attack its neighbour.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2010 17:56 IST

North Korea today demanded an end to sanctions before it returns to nuclear disarmament negotiations, but gave the go-ahead for economic talks with South Korea despite earlier threats to attack its neighbour.

Pyongyang's foreign ministry, reiterating its earlier stance, said it would not return to the six-nation disarmament talks it abandoned last April until the United Nations sanctions are lifted.

"The dignity of the DPRK (North Korea) will never allow this to happen," the ministry said in a statement.

The North repeated calls for early negotiations on a treaty to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War, in order to build confidence in the nuclear talks.

The communist state said it "is not opposed to the six-party talks and has no ground whatsoever to delay them".

But it added: "There will be a starting point of confidence-building only if the parties concerned sit at a negotiating table for concluding a peace treaty."

The United States and South Korea have rejected early discussions on a peace treaty, or the lifting of sanctions.

They say the North must first return to the six-party talks -- which group the two Koreas, the US, Russia, China and Japan -- and show it is serious about scrapping its atomic programmes.

Seoul's foreign ministry said under the UN resolution, sanctions could only be reconsidered when there was progress in denuclearisation.