North Korea has ruled out talks on its nuclear programme but expressed its willingness to sign a peace treaty with the US. Pyongyang's statement came a day after US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said they were ready to ease sanctions on North Korea if it agreed to give up its nuclear ambitions.

"No issue in which the countries concerned including the US are interested can be settled unless a peace treaty is concluded before anything else," North Korea's foreign ministry said in the statement, which was quoted by Agence France Presse. "If the US insists on its hostile policy, it will only see the DPRK's (North Korea) limitless bolstering of nuclear deterrence and the growth of its revolutionary armed forces," it added.

In July, Iran and the major powers reached a deal which seeks to curb Tehran's nuclear weapons programme. "There has been no indication on the part of the North Koreans as there was with the Iranians that they could foresee a future in which they did not possess or were not pursuing nuclear weapons," Obama said.

North Korea "will face consequences, including seeking further significant measures by the UN Security Council", a statement issued after Friday's (16 October) meeting between Obama and Park said. It added that the US and South Korea would never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.

North Korea, which continued to conduct nuclear tests after walking away from talks involving the US and four other countries in 2008, is still technically at war with South Korea under the truce signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean conflict. Currently, there are 28,500 US troops in South Korea and nearly 50,000 US troops in Japan.