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North Korea renewed its demand Tuesday for recognition as a nuclear power, saying it was a pre-requisite for the start of any dialogue with the United States.
A commentary in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as "totally unacceptable" a US demand that North Korea commit to abandoning its nuclear weapons and missile programme before any talks can begin.
Any meeting at the negotiating table must be "between nuclear weapons states", it said.
The United States has made it clear that it will never formally accept the North, which carried out its third nuclear test in February, as a nuclear power.
After a month of escalating military tensions on the Korean peninsula, Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang have begun skirting around the possibility of dialogue.
For the moment, however, most energy is being expended on rejecting each other's pre-conditions.
During a trip to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Pyongyang must first prove it was serious about reining in its nuclear programme.
North Korea responded by demanding the withdrawal of UN sanctions and an end to all future South Korea-US joint military exercises.