North Korea appealed directly to dozens of political leaders in rival South Korea Thursday, asking them to help bring reconciliation to the divided Korean peninsula.

It was part of a marked shift in policy and a remarkable peace overture by isolated North Korea, which declared Wednesday it was ready to talk with the South's newly elected government in the interest of ending decades of confrontation.Thursday, North Korea delivered 70 letters addressed to South Korean leaders - including the president-elect - urging them to work toward reconciliation.

"We make clear that we are willing to have dialogue and negotiation with anyone in South Korea, including political parties and organizations," Kim Yong Sun, a top North Korean policymaker, was quoted as saying by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

Kim, who is regarded as a close confidant of leader Kim Jong Il, spelled out the North's new position in a report to a meeting Wednesday of the country's major political parties and organizations, the North Korean news agency said.

In South Korea, President-elect Kim Dae-jung's party, the National Congress for New Politics, welcomed the North Korean move, calling it "a sign of change in the North's attitude."