PYONGYANG, North Korea -- North Korea is open to immediate talks with rival South Korea if Seoul responds to several preconditions for dialogue, a North Korean military official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
But Ri Son Gwon, a colonel working for the Policy Department of the North's powerful National Defense Commission, also challenged South Korea to "state to the world whether it honestly intends to enter into dialogue with us."
The comments came a day after a senior U.S. diplomat said Washington is open to settling a nuclear standoff with North Korea through diplomacy if Pyongyang first improves ties with Seoul.
"The South speaks loudly of dialogue in public, but behind the scenes it also says it cannot shake the principles that plunged North-South Korean ties into complete deadlock," Ri said in an interview in Pyongyang.
"If clear answers are given, dialogue will resume immediately," said Ri, dressed in an olive green military uniform. "The resumption of dialogue and the improvement of relations hinge completely on the willingness of the South's government."
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