S.Korea welcomes Kim's offer for dialogue

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the shore of Heaven Lake atop Mount Baekdu

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the shore of Heaven Lake atop Mount Baekdu

But U.S. -based experts saw Kim's speech as a clear attempt to divide Seoul from its main ally, Washington, which has led an worldwide campaign to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up weapons programs aimed at developing nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Kim's customary New Year's speech is closely watched for indications of the policy direction the unpredictable and reclusive leader is likely to pursue in the coming year.

He said the North might also be using its potential Olympic participation as a chance to show its nuclear program is not meant to pose a threat to regional peace.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of global sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula. Since taking office in May, he has pushed for dialogue with Kim's regime in a bid to ease tensions - a shift from the conservative government that he replaced.

Several nations have questioned whether it is safe to send their athletes to the Games, which will be held in February at a mountain resort just 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the heavily fortified border.

"The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk".

New Orleans Saints 14, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan picked up his 13th sack of the season, on a play that ended the first half. The Bucs went 95 yards from their own 5-yard line without a timeout in less than two minutes.

"We're actually closer in my view to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been".

But many North Korea watchers say the young leader's two-track approach is a ploy to shake the South Korea-U.S. alliance. "I hope that North Korea will also participate, which will provide a very good opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation", Moon said in November 2017, during North Korea's two-month-long pause in ballistic missile testing.

Kim's January 1 speeches have previously set the direction for tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Besides those tests, North Korea also detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device and fired more than a dozen rockets.

Dressed in a western-style grey suit and tie, Kim added, however, that the North's nuclear arsenal played a purely deterrent role. He also did not touch on Kim's demand that Seoul cancel its annual joint military exercises with the United States.

In that context, there was little in Kim's speech to suggest that President Donald Trump's bellicose rhetoric and uncompromising position on North Korea have succeeded at intimidating him into submission, but his combination of nuclear saber-rattling at the US with an overture of reconciliation to South Korea could provide some clues as to Pyongyang's diplomatic strategy going forward.

Latest News