North Korea's Kim Signals Olympics Truce, Seeks Talks With Seoul

North Korea's Kim Signals Olympics Truce, Seeks Talks With Seoul

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 USA mainland.

He also proclaimed that his country achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces in 2017.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were scheduled to be held in February in South Korea's namesake county of PyeongChang in the eastern Gangwon province.

South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, has encouraged Pyongyang to send a delegation to the Games, hoping their presence would help ease tensions on the Korean peninsula. The tests were the focus of fiery verbal exchanges between the North and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has derisively called Kim, "little rocket man".

Pyongyang and Seoul should improve their relations and the path to dialogue is open, Mr Kim was reported as saying.

Cho told a media conference he expects the two Koreas to focus on bringing a North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin next month, should the talks be held on January 9.

The minister said communication channels between the two Koreas in Panmunjom should be restored immediately to hold the inter-Korean, inter-governmental talks, suggesting to discuss details on the January 9 dialogue, such as setting agenda and forming delegations through the restored communication channels.




As well as Kim's overtures to his Southern neighbors, he also announced plans to start mass-producing nuclear warheads as he delivered a televised New Year's Day speech.

For their part, the South Koreans have been eager to obtain assurances from both Pyongyang and Washington that the games in Pyeongchang, a scant 50 miles from the demilitarized zone, won't be marred by heightened tensions or the outbreak of war.

Or perhaps Kim is simply looking to pursue détente with the South and deterrence of the US on separate tracks.

Talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but conservative critics worry that they may only earn the North time to ideal its nuclear weapons.

Whether or not Kim Jong-un has a physical button to authorize launch or not, it remains the case that North Korea's nuclear weapons continue to see highly centralized and assertive command and control.

Kim also emphasized that "the nuclear button is always on my desk", which he said is "not blackmail but reality".

Choi met North Korea's sports official Mun Woong in China on December 18 on the sidelines of a worldwide youth football tournament where North and South Korea soccer teams competed, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported.

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