North Korea pressed South Korea Friday to accept its recent conciliatory overture, insisting that its proposal is neither deceptive nor a prelude to provocation.
Last week, the North's powerful National Defense Commission offered a series of conciliatory gestures that called for, among other things, the cancellation of upcoming joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S.
The commission has also called for a halt to all slander and military hostility between the two Koreas.
South Korea has rejected the North's overture as a "deceptive"
ploy and vowed to go ahead with the joint drills with the U.S., which are set to run from late February through April.
On Friday, the commission called on South Korea not to rashly reject its proposal as it repeated its demand that Seoul cancel the upcoming joint military drills.
The North says the military exercises could be a rehearsal for a nuclear war against it, a claim rejected by Seoul and Washington.
"Our important proposal is neither a deceptive peace overture nor propaganda warfare," the commission said in a letter to South Korea carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
The commission also said its overture is not an excuse for new provocations.
The North's latest comments came after South Korea's Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae dismissed the North's overture as nothing but "propaganda and rhetoric."
Some analysts also warned that the North's conciliatory tone could be an attempt to lay the ground for possible provocations against South Korea.
North Korea has a track record of carrying out provocations after making conciliatory gestures toward South Korea. The North carried out a third nuclear test in February last year, a month after the North called for an improvement in inter-Korean ties.
The commission claimed inter-Korean relations can be improved only when military hostility ceases.
"It is our determination to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, and resume the tours of Mount Kumgang," the commission said.
The North recently rejected South Korea's proposal to stage reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, citing, among other things, Seoul's annual joint military exercises with the U.S.
Family reunions are a highly emotional issue on the divided Korean Peninsula. Most of the separated family members are in their 70s and 80s and want to see their long-lost relatives before they die.
South Korea suspended tours to Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on North Korea's east coast, following the shooting dead of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard in 2008.
North Korea has since repeatedly called for the resumption of the tour program, which had provided a legitimate source of hard currency to the cash-strapped country. (Yonhap)