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North Korean editorial promotes peace talks

North Korea on Saturday called for dialogue and peace on the Korean Peninsula in a state-issued New Year's Day editorial, warning that a breakout of war with the South "will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."

While the statement also characterized South Korea's government as a "minion of war" beholden to "pro-U.S. war hawks," the document's repeated calls for more cooperation suggest that the North might be moving, for now, away from a pattern of attacks against the South.

"Active efforts should be made to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between North and South by placing the common interests of the nation above anything else," said the official message, which was carried by state media.

After a year of some of the worst tensions on the Korean Peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War, the past week has brought signs of calming. On Wednesday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that he saw no choice but to resume six-party talks with the North that also include Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

Russian and Chinese officials have repeatedly called for those negotiations to begin anew -- they lapsed after the North quit them last year -- and many observers expect that a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington this month could push the process further along.

In a New Year's address to his nation on Saturday, Lee said he is "confident that we will be able to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula."

Despite the hopeful words, it wasn't clear how the two Koreas would move toward a more peaceful co-existence.

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