NKorea vows better ties with SKorea

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea, which has conducted two nuclear tests in the past, on Saturday welcomed the new year with calls for a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons, better ties with rival South Korea and a promise to boost its military strength.
The North's annual New Year's message comes in the wake of its Nov. 23 artillery attack on a front-line South Korean island near the Koreas' disputed western sea border.
That barrage, which followed an alleged North Korean torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March, sent tensions between the Koreas soaring and fueled fears of war during the last weeks of 2010.
In the holiday message, carried in the official state press, the North said confrontation between the two Koreas should be defused as early as possible and called for a more determined campaign to improve inter-Korean relations and reunify the country.
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