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North Korean leader begins new year with threats against US

North Korean leader begins new year with threats against US

The United States and South Korea conducted large-scale military drills last week, which the North said made the outbreak of war "an established fact".

In his address, Kim Jong Un said his country's weapons are now a reality and not just a threat. Kim said he is willing to send a North Korean delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and added both Koreas "could urgently meet" to discuss the matter. The United Nations Security Council last month approved its strongest sanctions yet on North Korea - a move that Pyongyang described as an "act of war".

His annual speech serves as a indication of his priorities for 2018.

Kim's comments on South Korea surprised analysts, who described them as the most significant part of his speech. "North and South must work together to alleviate the tensions and work together as a people of the same heritage to find peace and stability", Kim said, according to a CNN translation of his speech. In the address, Kim celebrated the completion of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, offered to enter conditional talks with South Korea with the offer of potentially sending a delegation to the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, and condemned worldwide sanctions. "South Korean relations, and seems created to drive a wedge there", said Douglas Paal, a former senior USA diplomat who heads the Asia program at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. How things turn out, he said, rests on whether China puts more pressure North Korea.




"Implicit in Kim Jong Un's speech is a willingness to engage with others, including the United States, on the basis of their acceptance of the "reality" of North Korea's permanent nuclear status".

Earlier Tuesday, Moon spoke of Kim's positive response to earlier South Korean dialogue overtures and ordered officials to study how to restore talks with North Korea and get the North to participate in the Olympics.

His remarks come after both the USA and the United Nations slapped repeated rounds of sanctions against the state in response to Pyongyang's aggressive weapons testing.

Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until last April and now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said there was an argument to be made to encourage North Korea's Olympic participation but that it should not be taken too far. 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".

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