N. Korea lists conditions for talks

North Korea laid out conditions Thursday for any talks with Seoul or Washington, including the withdrawal of UN sanctions and a guaranteed end to South Korea-US joint military drills.

"If the US and the South enemies... genuinely want dialogue and negotiation, they should take these steps," the North's National Defence Commission said in statement.

The conditions are almost certain to be rejected outright by both South Korea and the United States, who have themselves made dialogue conditional on the North taking steps towards denuclearisation.

The Commission's statement was the North's latest salvo in a heated exchange over the dialogue issue, which has become the new focus of a rhetorical battle that has raised tensions on the Korean peninsula to their highest level for years.

South Korea's new president, Park Geun-Hye, has made tentative -- and conditional -- offers of talks, which received the backing of US Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent Northeast Asia tour.

Both Park and Kerry stressed that any talks would have to be substantive and predicated on signals from North Korea that it "change its ways" and respect its international obligations, especially with its nuclear programme.