North Korea has aired a rare positive comment about President Bush, praising his decision to use the title "mister" in referring to Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong-il.

A spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry says the new softer tone coming from the White House improves the chances of resuming international talks on Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program.

The official in Pyongyang is quoted Friday by the official Korean Central New Agency as saying that if Mr. Bush's comments put an end to differences between aggressive and moderate factions in the United States, they will help create an atmosphere in which a renewed round of six-party nuclear talks can take place.

Mr. Bush told reporters earlier this week at a news conference on Tuesday that diplomacy is essential to persuade North Korea to return to disarmament talks. The president said he wanted to send a message to "Mr. Kim Jong-il" that if he wants to be among those "viewed with respect in the world," he must work with the international community and set aside North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.