March 26, 2018 / 1:41 PM / 4 months ago

North Korea urges U.S. to adopt 'serious attitude' for peace, end sanctions

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea said on Monday its policy of seeking better ties with the South was enjoying broad international support, and called on the United States to halt its sanctions and pressure.

Ri Jong Hyok, director of North Korea’s National Reunification Institute and deputy head of its Supreme People’s Assembly, said that his country sought to build a “just and peaceful new world, free from aggression and war”.

Nothing could block the goal of inter-Korean dialogue and reunification, he told the general assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva. North Korea’s efforts to improve bilateral ties with South Korea now enjoyed a “broad spectrum of support” internationally, he said.

“Now is the high time to put an end to the U.S. anachronistic anti-DPRK hostile policy and its futile moves of sanctions and pressure,” Ri said, referring to his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

North Korea’s consistent position was to resolve all issues through dialogue and negotiation, he said.

“The United States should properly understand our position and come out in a manner of sincere and serious attitude for positively contributing to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” Ri added.

U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May after South Korean officials relayed a message from Pyongyang that the North Korean leader wished to speak to Trump about denuclearisation.

The detente with the North began in January with the announcement that Pyongyang would send athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics held in the South, as part in a unified Korean team. It came after a year in which Pyongyang staged several missile launches and its biggest-ever nuclear test, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

South Korea said on Saturday that North Korea had agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea on March 29 at the border truce village of Panmunjom to prepare for a summit of their leaders planned for April.

Ri, who held bilateral meetings with parliamentary delegations from Syria and Mongolia in Geneva, made no reference in his six-minute speech to either upcoming summit.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Miles and Peter Graff

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