SEOUL, Jan 27 (AFP): North Korea has proposed a joint celebration with South Korea to promote unification amid signs of a widening rift between Seoul and Washington over how to handle the Stalinist state.
Yang Hyong-Sop, vice president of the country's rubber-stamp parliament, made the proposal at a joint meeting of government, political parties and other groups Thursday, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
A written appeal released after the meeting said the two Koreas should stand united against the real enemy, the United States.
"They should go united to foil the US imperialists' moves to ignite a new war on the Korean Peninsula," it said, according to KCNA Friday.
The celebration should occur on the anniversary of the June 15, 2000, summit between North and South Korean leaders that opened the way to improved ties between the once bitter rivals, KCNA said.
North Korea, engaged in a standoff with the outside world over its nuclear weapons programmes, has long sought to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.
South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun said this week that tension would rise between the two allies if the United States stepped up efforts to isolate Pyongyang.
Washington has accused North Korea of financial crimes including counterfeiting US dollars and money laundering, and imposed sanctions.
The US Treasury has labeled a Macau-based bank, Banco Delta Asia, a "primary money laundering concern" and blacklisted eight North Korean companies in connection with the bank that it said were involved in spreading weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea has refused to return to six-party talks aimed at ending the nuclear standoff unless the United States lifts the sanctions.
US President George W Bush insisted Thursday that sanctions would stay.