Fri May 19, 2017 11:11PM
North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Kim In Ryong, answers a question during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, May 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Kim In Ryong, answers a question during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, May 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

North Korea says the US should reverse its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang before holding any possible talks between the two sides, amid escalating tensions between Washington and the North.

North Korea's Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong said on Friday that the US is "the root cause of all problems," adding that the Americans had gestured toward dialogue, but what was important "is not words, but actions."

"The rolling back of the hostile policy toward the DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] is the prerequisite for solving all the problems in the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, the urgent issue to be settled on the Korean Peninsula is to put a definite end to the US hostile policy toward the DPRK," he added.

Kim's remarks came less than a week after Choe Son-hui, the deputy director general of the Department of US Affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, said Pyongyang would hold dialogue with Washington "if the conditions are there."

US President Donald Trump warned last month about the possibility of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs but later reversed course, saying he would be “honored” to meet the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, under the right conditions.

Seoul and Washington have expressed concerns over Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs, which North Korea says serve to defend itself against US aggression.

Read more:

The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) is launched during a test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have significantly heightened in the past several weeks. Washington, concerned by Pyongyang's rapidly-developing missile and military nuclear programs, has sent a strike force to the peninsula. The North has said it is combat-ready. The two sides have recently traded a barrage of military threats.

Amid the recent tensions, the US has called on China, which is also North Korea’s major economic benefactor, to help increase pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program. While China has opposed any military action against North Korea, it has long maintained that the North should not have a military nuclear program and has recently increased pressure on Pyongyang by imposing sanctions of its own.

Read more:

Pyongyang, already under a raft of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against possible US aggression. North Korea has also said it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless the US ends its hostility toward the North.

The United Nations Security Council imposed its first array of sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 and has boosted the so-called deterrent measures in response to the country's five confirmed nuclear tests and a pair of long-range missile launches. The North has already threatened to conduct a sixth nuclear test.