A senior North Korean official said Wednesday his nation would welcome a visit by the "highest authority" in South Korea to discuss reunification of the peninsula.

North Korean First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju addressed the U.N. General Assembly one day after South Korean President Roh Tae Woo called for direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang.Roh, the first Korean leader to address the General Assembly in 40 years, said he hoped to travel to the North Korean capital soon for direct talks with Kim to sign a non-aggression pact and discuss reunification.

Kim has never responded publicly to the proposal, which Roh has made on one other occassion in a speech in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Kang did not refer directly to Roh's proposal but he confirmed talks were proposed and that North Korea would "welcome a visit by the highest authority of South Korea in order to adopt a non-aggression declaration and discuss the problems of national reunification."

But he said annual South Korean military exercises, conducted with the United States, were "spoiling the atmosphere of reconciliation."

Kang proposed high-level military and political talks to ease tensions.