By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea's U.N. envoy blamed the United States for rising tensions on the Korean peninsula Friday and demanded the dissolution of the U.N. command in South Korea, saying it is the only way to guarantee peace and stability.
Ambassador Sin Son Ho told reporters at a rare news conference that the most pressing issue is the hostile relations between North Korea and the United States "which can lead to a new war at any moment."
He reiterated North Korea's offer of wide-ranging senior level talks with the United States which should include a discussion of replacing the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, dismantling the U.N. command and "a world without nuclear weapons." But he warned that North Korea will not give up its "nuclear self-defense deterrent" as long as there are nuclear weapons in the region and the U.N. command exists.
Sin said the U.N. command in South Korea is merely a tool of the United States whose real aim is to transform it into a new multinational force in Asia similar to NATO. He said it "has nothing to do with the unanimous will of the United Nations."
The Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by a heavily fortified border monitored by the U.S.-led U.N. Command. Washington also stations 28,500 American troops in South Korea to protect its ally against North Korean aggression.
The ambassador's statement marked the latest twist in North Korea's relations with South Korea and the United States under its new leader Kim Jong Un. It follows Pyongyang's surprise offer Sunday for direct nuclear disarmament talks with the U.S.
Associated Press Writer Maria Sanminiatelli contributed to this report from the United Nations
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