North Korean leader says he's ready for more talks with Trump

North Korean leader says he's ready for more talks with Trump

North Korean leader says he's ready for more talks with Trump

Kim's New Year's Day address - his seventh since taking power - is set to air on North Korea's state-run television network.

Mr Kim was referring to his summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, when he said he had "fruitful talks" and "exchanged constructive ideas".

North Korea, however, would have "no option but to explore a new path in order to protect our sovereignty" if the United States "miscalculates our people's patience, forces something upon us and pursues sanctions and pressure without keeping a promise it made in front of the world", Kim said in his nationally televised address.

The annual New Year's address is a tradition Mr Kim picked up from his grandfather, founder of the communist country, Kim Il-sung. These are the Gaeseong industrial park in North Korea, where South Korean factories use North Korean labor, and the Mount Geumgang resort in North Korea.

During Kim's three days in Singapore, North Korean state media trumpeted daily images never before seen in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang has demanded Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War in response to its unilateral steps toward denuclearization - including a moratorium on atomic tests, longer-range missile launches and closure of key sites.

"It is the unwavering position of our party and the republic's government and my firm will that the two countries as declared in the June 12 joint statement. take steps to establish a permanent and stable peace regime and push toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", he said.

In December, Trump said that he hopes to meet Kim as soon as even this month or February, describing their relationship as "good" and even suggesting he might invite Kim to the White House.

Analysts said Kim's message sent clear signals that North Korea is willing to stay in talks with Washington and Seoul this year - but on its own terms.

North Korea has not responded to Washington's calls for senior working-level talks to follow up on the June 12 summit, apparently preferring to engage Trump rather than other USA officials in its negotiations. The atmospherics supported North Korean propaganda efforts to paint Kim as a modern political leader who could be trusted with a nuclear arsenal.

Kim also reiterated his "strong will" and the North Korean government's "unchanged" position to pursue better relations with the U.S. and to seek complete denuclearization.

That resulted in a dramatic detente previous year, including three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the historic meeting with Trump in June.

Wearing a black suit and a grey-blue tie, Mr Kim said: "Now that North and South Korea made a decision to take the path of peace and prosperity, we insist that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as outside strategic assets should be completely stopped".

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

Although Pyongyang did not conduct nuclear or missile tests a year ago, satellite images have pointed to continued activity at the North's related facilities.

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