Trump 'looks forward' to new meeting with N.Korea's Kim

Posted January 02, 2019

"Kim Jong Un simply reaffirmed what we already know: that North Korea considers progress on denuclearization conditional on Washington providing sanctions relief", said Mintaro Oba, a former U.S. State Department official who worked on North Korean issues.

Kim Jong Un has issued a stark warning to the US over sanctions placed on North Korea, saying the country would have "no choice" but to act if Washington continues with its "one-sided demands".

The comments are likely to fuel growing scepticism over whether Pyongyang intends to give up the nuclear weapons program that it has long considered essential to its security.

Though it wasn't clearly enunciated in last year's vague Trump-Kim declaration, the North Korean understanding of denuclearisation means those troops would eventually have to withdraw perhaps not just from South Korea but also from Japan, Guam, Saipan and possibly even scale down their military engagement with the Philippines.

"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. He added the country will "no longer make nuclear weapons, and will not use them or spread them".

While the North has stopped missile and nuclear testing, there's been little indication that Pyongyang is working towards complete and verifiable denuclearisation as the United States has called upon it to do.

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The speech showed Mr Kim's continued focus on direct diplomacy with Mr Trump, who has complained about the cost of maintaining United States military support for South Korea. He also warned that the United States should not misjudge North Korea's "patience". Washington halted some large-scale military exercises with Seoul to aid nuclear negotiations, but smaller drills continued.

He also called for an end to joint military drills between the US and South Korea and said no strategic military assets should be brought onto the Korean peninsula.

"I don't see that happening because the United States wants to secure its position in the region for the deepening US-China rivalry", Professor Robert Nagy, an global relations specialist at worldwide Christian University in Tokyo, said.

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.

"Kim's remarks seem to suggest his patience with America is wearing thin".

North Koreans' only had positive things to say about the New Year's speech.

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Kim also met with Moon three times last year - twice at the border truce village of Panmunjom and once in the North's capital - as Seoul and Pyongyang pursued several reconciliation initiatives, and at the weekend vowed to meet Moon "frequently" this year.

Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert and editor at "The Diplomat" magazine, summed up the speech as an opportunity for Mr Kim to "impress on Trump the need for the United States to come through with "corresponding measures" following [North Korea's] 2018 gestures".

A key theme in Kim's address was the economy - it made up the bulk of his speech - and the impact of sanctions.

Kim spoke sitting in a dark leather armchair, in a large office lined with packed bookshelves and paintings of his predecessors, father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung.

The hermit-kingdom despot used his New Year address to stage the intervention.

"If the U.S. responds to our active and preemptive efforts with trustworthy steps and corresponding behavior, (the North-U.S. relations) will move forward at an excellent and fast pace in the process of taking concrete and innovative measures", he said, apparently referring to the measures Pyongyang has taken since the June summit, including dismantling a nuclear and missile testing site.

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