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Beijing - North Korea said today it was open to talks about the rising tension over its nuclear weapons programme, a marked shift in tactics after months of ratcheting up foreign anxieties with nuclear test and missile launches.
The statement appeared to be a call for direct talks with the United States, a longstanding goal of the regime. It comes days after the North Korean leadership traded jibes with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, at a regional summit in Thailand.
It said she was "by no means intelligent" and looked like a schoolgirl or a pensioner going shopping, after she compared it to a group of "small children".
In today's announcement the foreign ministry in Pyongyang made clear its continued opposition to the six-party nuclear talks, which it said sought only to "disarm and incapacitate" the nation.
The statement from a foreign ministry spokesman, carried by state media, said that siding with those who sought their resumption "will not help to ease tension". But it said: "There is a specific and reserved form of dialogue that can address the current situation."