(CNN) -- North Korea on Saturday urged better ties with South Korea, warning that a war in the peninsula would amount to a "nuclear holocaust," South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
"Confrontation between north and south should be defused as early as possible," the North said in a New Year's editorial, according to Yonhap. "If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."
North Korea said it avoided a war last year because it persevered, but called for "an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation" this year, Yonhap said.
Yonhap said the editorial is considered "a blueprint for Pyongyang's policy goals."
The North also called on the South to end its military exercises, and said Seoul is aligned with "U.S. war hawks."
In its own New Year's message, Seoul said it was hopeful the coming months would bring changes.
"In the New Year of 2011, I am confident that we will be able to establish peace on the Korean peninsula and continue sustained economic growth," South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said.
Tensions have been running high since the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan last March, killing 46 sailors.
South Korea and the international community blamed the North for the sinking, but Pyongyang denied the accusations.
Last month, North Korea said the South's navy fired into Northern waters and, in retaliation, it shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans.
North Korea recently threatened to launch a "sacred war" after South Korea completed large military exercises near the volatile inter-Korean border. The drills took place on undisputed South Korean territory, but it was the timing that was worrisome to the region.
Lee has said the country "must launch a merciless counterattack" if the North attacks.