The call was made in a New Year joint editorial of several leading state North Korean newspapers, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and comes with a US Christian missionary apparently detained in the isolated country.
“The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK and the USA,” KCNA quoted the editorial as saying.
It also addressed international concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities after 2009 saw Washington attempt to bring Kim Jong-Il’s communist regime back to stalled six-nation talks on the issue.
“It is the consistent stand of the DPRK (North Korea) to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations,” the editorial said.
The US detainee, Robert Park, aged 28, was reported by colleagues to have crossed the frozen Tumen River from China on Christmas Day in a one-man protest against repression in the hardline North.
Months of ‘sabre-rattling’
A US citizen of Korean ancestry, he claimed he had seen a vision from God of North Korea’s liberation and redemption, his colleagues said, adding that Park crossed the border shouting, “I came here to proclaim God’s love”.
The North said Tuesday it had detained an American for illegal entry from China, its first apparent reference to Park. It said the man, whom it did not name, was under investigation.
In March, two US television journalists who crossed into North Korea from China spent more than four months behind bars for illegal entry.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee were sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour but were freed following a mission led by former US president Bill Clinton in August.
After months of sabre-rattling marked by a nuclear test and missile launches, the North used Clinton’s visit to extend peace feelers to Washington.
South Korea has said Park’s detention would not hurt efforts to resume the six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
Call for return to nuclear talks
US envoy Stephen Bosworth visited Pyongyang in December to try to persuade it to return to the forum, which groups the two Koreas, the US, Japan, Russia and China.
Friday’s New Year Day editorial also put great emphasis on what it called bringing about “a radical turn in the people’s standard of living” in impoverished North Korea.
This would be achieved by quicker development of light industry and agriculture, KCNA said.
“Our building of the country into an economic giant is aimed, to all intents and purposes, at radically improving the people’s standard of living,” the editorial quoted Kim as saying.
The editorial warned neighbouring South Korea against “committing acts that may aggravate the confrontation and tension, and take the road of respecting the inter-Korean declarations, promoting north-south dialogue and improving the relations between both sides.”