| SEOUL, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- North Korea, which has offered to hold military talks with South Korea, says the "right atmosphere" is necessary for any such dialogue.
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A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, apparently referring to South Korea's demand that Pyongyang accept responsibility for recent hostile military actions against the South, said in a statement no preconditions should be set for the talks, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday.
The North Korean statement comes as the South Korean Defense Ministry has proposed Feb. 11 as the date for a preliminary working-level meeting for the military talks.
"It is important to maintain the right atmosphere for dialogue", the North Korean statement said.
"A genuine attitude to dialogue is to untangle knots one by one based on the principle of seeking common ground but putting aside differences."
The South demands the North take responsibility for the sinking of its war ship last March in which more than 40 sailors died and the shelling of its border island last November, killing four people. Seoul also wants the North to show sincerity about denuclearization talks, which remain stalled.
"Dialogue is essential to remove the root cause of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula -- a problem caused by the U.S. threat of nuclear war and its hostile policy toward", the North Korean statement said.
In other developments, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg arrived in Seoul prior to visiting China and Japan.
China Daily quoted Steinberg as saying in Seoul that Pyongyang should demonstrate its sincerity for a meaningful dialogue on its nuclear programs. The report also quoted Chinese experts that while any suggestions for peace and dialogue are welcome, they should not come with strings attached - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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