Trump says looks forward to 2nd meeting with NK leader

Marsha Scott
January 3, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared his "strong will" towards denuclearisation in his annual New Year's Day address, but warned that he could "seek a new path" if the United States misjudges his patience.

"Kim Jong Un says North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others - & he is ready to meet President Trump anytime", he tweeted, citing a PBS News Hour newscast.

Mr Kim also said the USA should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South.

South Korea welcomed Kim's address, with the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae saying the speech reflects his wish for the development of inter-Korean ties and Pyongyang-Washington relations.

Kim also said he is willing to reopen the now shuttered inter-Korean industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong and resume a suspended tour program to Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast "without any preconditions".

The moves - an about-face from the weapons tests and threats in 2017 - were telegraphed in Kim's previous New Year's speech, in which he offered to discuss participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned there will be consequences if the U.S. "continues to break its promises and misjudges the patience of our people".

Last time, Mr Trump surprisingly called a halt to joint US-South Korean military drills.

The unification ministry also said that the North's leader renewed his commitment to working toward complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and expanding inter-Korean relations.

The two leaders traded personal insults - Trump mocked Kim as "Little Rocket Man", who in turn called him a "mentally deranged USA dotard" - and threats of war as fears of conflict rose.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump met for the first time in Singapore in June but, despite a great deal of hype, the resulting agreements were vague on how denuclearisation would be achieved.

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While the USA wants North Korea to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang has demanded more security guarantees from Washington.

"North Korea has always been adept at putting the onus for action on the United States, taking the initiative in a way that forces Washington to either react on Pyongyang's terms or look like the obstacle to progress", said Mintaro Oba, a former U.S. diplomat specialising in the Koreas.

In what was the first time a North Korean leader met a sitting USA president, the two signed a vaguely phrased agreement to improve ties and work towards denuclearisation. Pyongyang over the past months has accused Washington of failing to take corresponding measures following the North's unilateral dismantlement of a nuclear testing ground and suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

While Kim stated today that he's seeking more concessions from the US, there is no set timeline, nor plans for more talks between the two countries to continue, talks that have already been stalled for months. "If the United States responds to our pre-emptive and autonomous efforts with credible measures and corresponding actions, the relationship between the two countries will accelerate for the better".

"My sense is that Kim wants to portray himself as a legitimate leader in the global community both superior to Moon Jae-in and an equal to Donald Trump", Maxwell wrote. The US can defend the sanctions regime through its veto on the United Nations Security Council and its influence over South Korea.

Kim's remarks were "apparently created to revive the momentum of the negotiations", South Korea's centrist Hankook Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial Wednesday.

Abe, for his part, has said he is willing to meet Kim, though he has insisted that any summit must lead to a resolution of the regime's abductions of Japanese citizens.

However, there was a clear warning that the country is not ready to disarm unilaterally.

Interested in North Korea?

"North Korea has again restated its position, which remains unchanged", said Go Myong Hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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