North Korea called on the United States to scrap a strict trade ban and drop it from a list of countries Washington says sponsor terrorism, promising steps in return that would improve ties between the adversaries. Jong Song-il, a spokesman for North Korea’s delegation at an East Asian security meeting in Manila, told reporters Pyongyang had been “very active” in implementing its obligations under agreements reached during six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear programs, and others should reciprocate.

“It is very important also the other parties of the six-party talks, I mean the other five parties, should do their obligation ... On the part of the United States, for example, delisting the DPRK from the list of the terrorist-supporting states and also removal of the enemy trade act,” he said, speaking in English.

“At the same time we will come out with more concrete actions in the normalization of the bilateral relationship between DPRK and the United States.”

Pyongyang and Washington do not have diplomatic relations and the U.S. government bans trade with North Korea under the Trading With the Enemy Act. North Korea, officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is keen to establish formal ties with the United States.

After years of diplomatic maneuvering, North Korea shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor earlier this month, keeping its side of a February six-party deal that promised it energy aid.

It also invited back U.N. nuclear watchdog personnel to for the first time since late 2002 when Pyongyang threw them out of the country after a 1994 disarmament deal collapsed.

The next step of the latest disarmament deal, hammered out between the six parties—North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States—calls on Pyongyang to “disable” its nuclear facilities and provide a full accounting of its nuclear weapons programs.

Talks between the countries this month failed to produce a deadline for those steps. All six parties are in Manila for the security meeting this week, but no substantive talks between them are planned.

Several sets of working-level talks will be held in August and more senior officials will meet in September. (Reuters)