SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea proposed Monday signing a peace treaty this year to formally end the Korean War, a suggestion that Washington quickly dismissed.
In a move seen as an attempt to bolster its negotiating position, the isolated communist regime said a return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program depends on better relations with Washington and the lifting of U.N. sanctions.
However, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Monday that peace treaty talks would be discussed only after North Korea comes back to six-nation nuclear talks and takes steps on abandoning its nuclear programs.
As for dropping sanctions, Crowley said, "We're not going to pay North Korea to come back to the six-party process."
He urged North Korea to "say yes" to returning to the talks "and then we can begin to march down the list of issues that we have."
Washington and Pyongyang have never had diplomatic relations because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, thus leaving the peninsula technically at war.
North Korea, which says it was forced to develop atomic bombs to cope with U.S. threats, quit six-nation nuclear talks last year in anger over international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch.