North Korea has proposed high-level talks with the US aimed at discussing nuclear weapons programmes and easing of tension on the peninsula, state media said on Sunday.
"We propose high-level talks between the North and the US to secure peace and stability in the region and ease tension on the Korean peninsula," the North's powerful National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
The North is willing to have "serious discussions on a wide range of issues, including the US goal to achieve the world free of nuclear arsenal", it said, urging the US to set the time and venue for the talks.
"The US should not mention any pre-conditions for the talks if it is genuinely interested in ensuring peace and stability in the region including the US mainland," it said.
The nuclear-armed communist state said it was committed to denuclearisation of the peninsula but defended its atomic arsenal as "self-protective measures" against what it called military and nuclear threats from the US.
"Our status as a nuclear power will be maintained... until the nuclear threats from the outside will completely come to an end," it said, urging the US to stop the perceived threats and scrap all sanctions on the North.
"The situation now depends on how responsible the choices are that the US will make," it said.
Tension has been high on the peninsula since the North's third nuclear test in February that triggered new UN sanctions and subsequently drew angry threats from Pyongyang including nuclear attacks on Seoul and Washington.
A rare high-level meeting between two Koreas -- tentatively scheduled for June 12 and 13 to discuss easing of tension-- were cancelled on Tuesday due to spats over protocol.