North Korea is willing to give up efforts to develop nuclear weapons "in a transparent way" if the United States ends its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang (search), the North's envoy said as six-nation talks on his government's nuclear program began Wednesday.

The comments appeared to be a reference to the North's demand for a guarantee that it won't be attacked by the United States if it agrees to abandon its nuclear weapons development.

Pyongyang will submit a proposal to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for aid and Washington's withdrawal of its demand for a complete dismantling of the program, said Kim Gye Gwan (search), a North Korean vice foreign minister.

"Our trying to possess nuclear weapons ... is intended to protect ourselves from the United States nuclear weapons threat," Kim told his U.S. and other counterparts during the opening session of the talks at a Chinese government guesthouse.

"Therefore, if the United States gives up its hostile policy toward us by (real) actions, we are prepared to give up in a transparent way all plans related to nuclear weapons," Kim said.

Diplomats said North Korea agreed earlier this week to discuss a "verifiable freeze" of its nuclear program as a step toward dismantlement.

If the United States withdraws its demand for a complete and irreversible dismantling of the program "and accepts our compensation demands, we are prepared to submit specific proposals concerning freezing the nuclear program at this talks in order to break the current stalemate and to reinvigorate the six-party talks," Kim said.

The six countries taking part in the talks are North and South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States.

Kim didn't give details of how the secretive North's renunciation of nuclear weapons would be transparent, or whether that might involve international inspections.

The United States has rejected the North's demand for a nonaggression treaty, but says it would consider some form of security guarantee involving other regional powers.