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Pyongyang open to talks with Seoul after months of tension 

Seoul, May 16 (IANS) North Korea on Monday said it was open to dialogue with South Korea, a move that offers to ease tensions after a long period of hostility between the neighbours which has broken nearly all ties between the two countries.

The Kim Jung-un-led regime, in a statement, expressed openness to discussing any proposal South Korea may make with frankness, Efe news reported.

Without offering more details on the hypothetical proposal it expects from Seoul, Pyongyang urged South Korea not to link North Korea’s nuclear programme with bilateral relations.

In February, South Korea broke off the few remaining ties with North Korea, including closing the Kaesong joint industrial complex, after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test and launched a space rocket using long-range missile technology.

The period since then has witnessed simmering tension between the neighbours, including exchange of threats and heightened military preparedness on both sides, especially during the Seoul-Washington joint military drills on South Korean territory in March and April.

Pyongyang’s latest gesture — despite being vague and conditional — could be a first step towards improving relations between the two countries that are technically still at war since the armistice that ended the Korean War (1950-53) was never replaced with a definitive peace treaty.

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