North Korea has informed South Korea that it will lift restrictions on land crossings of their common border from tomorrow.

Seoul's YTN television quoted a South Korean government source as saying that the North has informed Seoul of the decision to lift the restrictions imposed eight months ago.

The report came a day before a high-ranking North Korean delegation is due to fly to the South to mourn the death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

Separately, North Korea is calling for new nuclear talks but wants them directly with the US, according to Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.

Mr Richardson is holding a rare meeting with diplomats sent by Pyongyang.

‘We had productive talks,’ Mr Richardson said. ‘I got a sense that temperatures have really cooled down since President Clinton’s visit.

‘The delegation indicated that North Korea is ready for a new dialogue with the United States regarding the nuclear issue,’ he said in a statement issued half-way through two days of talks in New Mexico.

‘The question is whether to proceed with face-to-face bilateral talks, as the North Koreans prefer, or to utilise the six-party framework that the United States has advocated. The North Koreans clearly want bilateral talks and not the six-party framework.’

North Korea abandoned six-party talks and vowed to restart its plutonium-producing program in April after a censure from the UN Security Council for testing a long-range rocket.

It went on to stage its second nuclear test on 25 May.

The US has refused bilateral talks with North Korea, saying negotiations are possible only within the context of the six-party forum grouping the two Koreas, China, Russia, the US and Japan.

Mr Richardson, met with North Korean delegates Kim Myong-Gil and Paek Jong-Ho near Santa Fe.