SEOUL - South Korea and the United States rejected North Korea's proposal to start peace talks to formally end the Korean War, with Seoul saying Tuesday that can happen only after the North rejoins disarmament talks and reports progress in denuclearization.

The North, however, said Monday that its return to those negotiations hinges on building better relations with the United States, including signing a peace treaty.

The North also called for the lifting of international sanctions against it.

On Tuesday, South Korea's defense chief repeated his country's suspicion of such calls from the North, which regularly pushes for a treaty.

Kim Tae-young told reporters he will continue to try to find what the North's true intention is behind the proposal.

Kim added that his military is ready to deter any possible North Korean aggression, saying the North "many times in the past offered peace gestures with one hand while on the other committed provocations."

He also repeated a demand from Washington and his own government that any discussion of a peace treaty can only take place after Pyongyang returns to the six-nation nuclear negotiations that it abandoned last year.

The allies insist that the North take steps toward disarmament before any concessions on sanctions or a treaty will be made.

"I think it's an issue that we can probably move forward with after the six-party talks are reopened and there is progress in North Korea's denuclearization process," Kim Tae-young said.(Sunnex)