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North Korea said on Saturday a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War should be signed as soon as possible to ease military tensions with the United States.
"It is urgent to replace the armistice agreement with a peace accord because the armistice agreement exists in name only due to the US," said Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the ruling communist party.
The 1950-1953 conflict ended in an armistice with no subsequent peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically at war.
The paper's commentary, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, said the armistice had become "a dead document" because of what it called "perfidious" acts by Washington.
It did not elaborate but frequently complains of joint US-South Korean military exercises, spy flights and what it sees as a US military buildup in the region.
"The earlier conclusion of the peace accord would help convert the acute belligerent relations between the DPRK (North Korea) and the US to those of peace and confidence and ensure lasting peace and stability on the peninsula," the commentary said.
A six-nation agreement on scrapping the North's nuclear programmes envisages a peace treaty, along with normalised US-North Korean relations, but only when the North surrenders all its nuclear material.
At an October summit the North and South Korean leaders called for a summit of three or four parties to discuss declaring an end to the war. They did not name the parties but apparently meant the two Koreas, the US which fought for the South and possibly China, which backed the North.
The summit call sparked debate in Seoul. Opponents said such a move should await full denuclearisation by the North which staged a nuclear weapons test in October 2006.
Under the current phase of the deal negotiated by the two Koreas, China, the US, Russia and Japan, the North was supposed by December 31 to disable its main atomic plants and give a full declaration of all nuclear programmes.
In response the other parties were to supply one million tons of fuel oil or equivalent energy aid.
The US was also supposed to start the process of removing the North from its terrorism list, which blocks access to bilateral economic aid and loans from international financial institutions.
The North failed to meet the deadline to make the declaration. It blames delays by negotiating partners in honouring their side of the deal -- especially the failure to start removing the terrorism designation. (AFP)
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