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The Obama-Hu talks were closely watched in South Korea due to the important role played by both Washington and Beijing on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea have a decades-long security alliance, while China is North Korea’s key ally.

North Korea appeared to have made the offer to show the United States and China that it is serious about reducing tensions, said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea analyst at Seoul’s Dongguk University.

He also said the inter-Korean talks could serve as a “stepping stone for the resumption of the disarmament talks.”

Seoul, Washington and Japan have pressed the North to prove it is serious about giving up its atomic ambitions before they will allow a new round of aid-for-disarmament talks.

North Korea has expressed a desire to restart the nuclear talks it quit in early 2009. The talks involve the two Koreas, Japan, the United States, China and Russia.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in recent years and is believed to have produced enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen bombs.

The North also unveiled in November a uranium enrichment facility that could give it a second way to make atomic bombs.