Kim Jong-un extends olive branch to South Korea's Olympic Games

02 January, 2018, 11:52 | Author: Marie Harrington
  • Kim Jong Un appeared to extend an olive branch to Seoul in his address to the nation today saying the Winter Olympics 2018 would “serve as a good chance to display our Korean people’s grace toward the world and we sincerely hope the Games will be a

It also comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said improvement of inter-Korean relations was linked to resolving the North's nuclear programme.

Kim said that rather than encouraging USA measures that "threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula", Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and "stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces". The North was subsequently hit with toughened United Nations sanctions, and Kim and President Donald Trump exchanged warlike rhetoric and crude personal insults against each other.

"The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table", he said, according to the Associated Press translation, in a speech carried by state television. "It also shows resolving North Korea's nuclear issue has a bigger priority (than improving inter-Korean relations)".

Kim, wearing a Western-style grey suit and tie, said in his customary annual address his country had achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces and added he has a nuclear button on his desk.

South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday it is "carefully" considering the timing of proposing talks with North Korea as the North's leader expressed his willingness to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. "This year we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment".

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.

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The Winter Olympics, which will take place not far from the demilitarised zone separating the North from the South, begin in early February.

"North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success".

It is possible officials from the two countries may meet in the near future to discuss the idea, he said, adding that he hoped the event was successful.

UNSC Resolution 2375, adopted in September, bans member countries from ship-to-ship transfers of any goods for North Korea. On Sunday, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told ABC News that the USA was closer than ever before to nuclear war with North Korea.

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.

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