Sanctions on North Korea aim to pressure it to abandon its nuclear ambitions, not to "bring down" the country, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the U.N. Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday.
But North Korea's envoy, addressing the same gathering, dismissed sanctions as ineffective and said plans by Seoul and Washington to resume joint military exercises would harm "the current positive process of improved inter-Korean relations".
"Sanctions are not an end in themselves and not meant to bring down North Korea but to make it understand that its future lies not in nuclear weapons but in working with the global community towards denuclearlisation," Kang said.
"Our consistent message should be that it (North Korea) must make the right decision. And if it does, we are ready to work together towards a brighter and prosperous future for North Korea," Kang told the Geneva forum.
North Korean ambassador Han Tae Song accused the United States of engaging in "dangerous moves" that threatened inter-Korean relations that had improved since the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"The U.S. should be aware that sanction and pressure will never threaten DPRK and never work," Han said.
The DPRK is the acronym of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Han urged the Trump administration to "stop all provocations that escalate tensions, including deployment of nuclear assets around the Korean peninsula", as well as the joint military exercises that he said undermined regional peace and security.
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told the forum that Washington would never recognise North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. "So it needs to stop this demand. It will not happen."
Instead, North Korea must respond to the demands of the international community for it to halt its banned weapons programmes, Wood said.
Manabu Horii, Japan's Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, also struck a tough note, saying North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches were unacceptable.
"We should not be blinded by North Korea's charm offensive," he said, referring to its participation in the Winter Olympics.