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North Korea says it wants to defuse tension with South


Seoul: North Korea said Saturday in a New Year message that it wanted to reduce tension with the South but warned of a “nuclear holocaust” if there is another war on the peninsula, a media report said.

The call came against the background of a year in which tension between the two states reached a recent high with an artillery attack on the South’s Yeonpyeong Island in November that killed four people, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

“Confrontation between North and South should be defused as early as possible,” Pyongyang said in the joint editorial from the Rodong Sinmun, Joson Inmingun and Chongnyon Jonwi newspapers.

“If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.”

North Korea staged nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

The editorial credited Pyongyang with avoiding war on the peninsula in 2010 and called on the South to halt a series of military exercises it has staged since the Nov 23 artillery attack.

The joint New Year’s editorial called for “an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation” in 2011 and also repeated a previous pledge for denuclearisation.

North Korea “is consistent in its stand and will to achieve peace in North-East Asia and denuclearization of the whole of the Korean peninsula”, the editorial said.

Six-party negotiations involving the Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan have been on hold since 2008.

The editorial also dealt with the economy and the military.

“We should further strengthen the militant might of the People’s Army,” the editorial said, referring to the country’s 1.2 million-strong military forces.

North Korea also said it would improve standards of living before 2012 when the leadership says it will become a “a great, prosperous and powerful country.”

That year will be the centenary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder and the father of the current leader, Kim Jong Il.

It called for a “full-scale offensive” to revive the country’s faltering economy.

The editorial is considered an indicator of Pyongyang’s policy aims, Yonhap reported.