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N. Korea accuses U.S. of "nuclear blackmail"

LONDON -- North Korea says the United States needs to end its "nuclear blackmail" and respond to Pyongyang's recent diplomatic overture to formally end the decades-old Korean conflict. Fighting ended in 1953 without a peace treaty, leaving North and South Korea still technically at war.

Speaking during an interview Tuesday in London with Associated Press Television News, senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official Jong Tong Hak said a permanent peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula first requires a North Korean-U.S. agreement.

Discussing Pyongyang's view of the root cause of tensions, he blamed the "successive hostile policy by the government of the United States and its continuing nuclear blackmail against the DPRK," the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea.

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"The American administration continues to send its nuclear powered aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula and meantime it continues to send nuclear strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula,'" he said. "And the United States of America continues to wage war exercises against the DPRK with the South Korean side."

Jong said a compromise to break the impasses requires decisive action by Washington.

"The issue of signing a peace treaty between the DPRK and United States can be easily solved by the bold decision of the American government," he said. "If the American government is serious about respecting the sovereignty of the DPRK and ending its ongoing hostile policy against the DPRK then it can be solved very easily between the two sides."

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Last month, Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, described Pyongyang's latest proposal for treaty negotiations as "disingenuous."

The two sides' positions are so deeply at odds that it can seem like a chicken-or-egg situation.

Washington's position - which is in line with ally Seoul - is that it is only open to talks on easing sanctions if the North makes it clear it is willing to negotiate an end to its nuclear program, stop developing long-range missiles that could reach foreign targets and live up to other international agreements.

Pyongyang, for is part, maintains that it must have a deterrent to counter the threat of a U.S. attack - nuclear or otherwise.

The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, is mulling whether the North should be designated a state sponsor of terrorism. That designation was lifted in 2008 during negotiations on its nuclear program that stalled soon after. Among the allegations was that North Korean-supplied rockets had been used against Israel by fighters from the militant group Hamas.

North Korea likes to point out that the U.S. has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. There are no foreign military bases in North Korea, though China was a key North Korea ally during the war.

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