SEOUL, North Korea said Thursday that it is ready to have friendly ties with countries that respect its sovereignty in what appears to be a conciliatory gesture to the outside world ahead of the upcoming anniversary of its state establishment.

"We will push to improve and normalize ties with any countries that show their respect for our sovereignty and treat us friendly even if they have had hostile relations with us before," the North's foreign ministry said in a posting on its website.

"Putting our dignity and interests first, we will actively manage our foreign affairs and develop them from various angles, while being ready to advance exchanges and cooperation on many fronts even with capitalist countries," it added.

The ministry argued that the North has never closed its doors to the outside and has rather maintained friendly and mutually respectful relations with many countries in the world.

It did not mention any particular country with which it is ready to improve ties, however.

The ministry's somewhat conciliatory remarks came as the North prepares for its 70th founding anniversary on Sunday, which will be marked by diverse events and celebrations likely to be joined by high-ranking officials from its friend countries.

The comments also followed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's renewed commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during his Wednesday meeting with a South Korean presidential delegation visiting Pyongyang to arrange a third inter-Korean summit.

It is in contrast with the North's recently ramped-up emphasis on the importance of self-reliance and independence from outside influence in pursuing its own policy.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, earlier underscored the need for self-reliance in decision-making and reiterated its resolve to push for economic development without outside help.

Some pundits say that it is a tactic to raise the North's leverage in nuclear talks with the U.S. by showing that it is not so desperate to develop its economy through concessions it could receive in return for giving up its nuclear weapons.

Source: Yonhap News Agency