North Korea authorities said they were willing to negotiate a peace treaty with the U.S. if it ended its "nuclear blackmail," a North Korean foreign ministry official said to the Associated Press. A peace settlement was never technically reached following the Korean War in the 1950s, in which the U.S. backed South Korea and China and Russia backed the North, and North Korean foreign ministry official Jong Tong Hak said Tuesday it was time to make peace official.

"The issue of signing a peace treaty between the [Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK)] and United States can be easily solved by the bold decision of the American government," said Jong, who noted that because of the way the war ended in 1953, North Korea would need to sign a peace treaty with the U.S. before it could make peace with South Korea. The cause of the ongoing conflict between the two countries was caused by "successive hostile policy by the government of the United States and its continuing nuclear blackmail," according to Jong.

The Korean War began in 1950 when 75,000 soldiers from North Korea crossed the 38th parallel, the demarcation between Soviet-backed territory and U.S.-backed territory in the Southern region. Fighting continued between the two sides until 1953, when the U.S., fearing another proxy war with China, agreed to a ceasefire in 1953. Around 5 million soldiers and civilians died during that war, with some 40,000 of them U.S. soldiers. All parties involved in the conflict agreed to the ceasefire. A peace treaty, however, was never signed.

In the more than 60 years since the ceasefire, North Korea has attempted to build its stockpile of nuclear weapons, particularly long-range missiles that could reach foreign targets. The U.S. has long said that it will not negotiate with North Korea unless Pyongyang agrees to limit its nuclear proliferation. North Korean authorities in turn, have said they want negotiations with the U.S. to result in protection from attack.

"If the American government is serious about respecting the sovereignty of the DPRK and ending its ongoing hostile policy against the DPRK then it can be solved very easily between the two sides," said Jong.