However, in an apparent signal of Washington's scepticism about closer ties with the reclusive dictatorship, the US's new envoy on North Korea's human rights described Pyongyang's record on the issue as "appalling".
North Korea's foreign ministry said it wanted peace talks with Washington to work towards a more formal accord to replace the truce which ended the 1950-53 Korean war, bringing about Korea's separation. This would be a means for the North to re-enter six-party nuclear discussions involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia.
"If confidence is to be built between [North Korea] and the US, it is essential to conclude a peace treaty for terminating the state of war, a root cause of the hostile relations, to begin with," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying.
"The removal of the barrier of such discrimination and distrust as sanctions may soon lead to the opening of the six-party talks."
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