North Korea has proposed that the rival Koreas halt all hostile military actions and stop vilifying each other, saying it would create a climate for better relations.

The North's National Defense Commission said South Korea should cancel annual military drills with the United States, a step that is unlikely to be accepted by the South. North Korea regularly demands that the joint drills be halted, but South Korea says they defensive in nature.

North Korea's proposal, issued Thursday, indicated it would continue to possess nuclear weapons, saying they were needed to deter U.S. aggression.

The proposal comes about two weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for improved ties between the Koreas in his New Year's message. South Korea has questioned the sincerity of his overture.