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South Korea offers to talk with North on Olympics cooperation

02 January, 2018, 10:35 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Koreans watch North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year's address in Seoul on Jan. 1 2018. Lee Jin-man  AP

In his New Year's Day speech on Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un touted his country as a nuclear power which possesses the technology capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

In his address Monday, Kim said the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. "This is reality, not a threat", he insisted, though he suggested that the program has some work left to accomplish by stating his country will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment".

Beyond his talk of a "nuclear button", Kim Jong-un's most diplomatically significant remark in the address concerned inter-Korean relations.

"We have always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea anytime and anywhere if that would help restore inter-Korean relations and lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula", a spokesman for the South Korean presidency said. "The U.S. can never start a war against myself and our nation now".

Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease global isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute, told CNN the softened tone toward South Korea was a surprise.




Kim said that rather than encouraging USA measures that "threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula", Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and "stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces".

In an interview on ABC's "This Week", Mullen warned that President Donald Trump's provocative rhetoric aimed at Kim Jong Un likely indicates he would prefer to take a more aggressive approach to countering the rogue regime's rapidly evolving nuclear weapons program.

Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea at sea is prohibited under United Nations sanctions adopted September 11.

"North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success".

But he also hinted at diplomatic overtures to South Korea amid increasingly crippling sanctions. The war games usually begin in February or March. Kim Jong-un, while acknowledging the "unprecedented" level of sanctions the country had endured in 2017, said that North Korea would have to improve its "ability to be self-reliant". He also did not touch on Kim's demand that Seoul cancel its annual joint military exercises with the United States.

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