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North Korea offers "olive branch" to South



(Vatican Radio) North Korea says it is extending an olive branch to South Korea, saying it is willing to cooperate and to overlook past disagreements. But the offer comes with conditions. In an open letter to the South Korean people, North Korea's National Defence Commission said it is ready to defuse tensions, allow family reunions and boost cross-border cooperation. Listen to this report from Alastair Wanklyn: RealAudioMP3

It urged South Korea's government to accept the offer, which it said has no ulterior motive.

But the North demanded several conditions. The letter, carried by state news agency, said the North would defend its nuclear weapons. And it demanded that the South cancel several weeks of military exercises planned with United States forces beginning next month.

South Korea rejected a similar demand last week, accusing the North of "deception." During similar exercises last year, the North said it was on the verge of attacking Seoul with nuclear weapons.

On Friday, Seoul's defense ministry said it wants action not words. It said North Korea is alone responsible for tensions on the Korean peninsula. A ministry spokesman said tensions will only ease when the North ceases its hostility.

The U.S. commander in the region said this week the exercises will go ahead, adding that North Korea's new leader appears to be "unpredictable". Admiral Samuel Locklear said that means the path towards peace is unclear right now. Listen to Alastair Wanklyn's














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