S. Korean president welcomes DPRK leader's New Year address

S. Korean president welcomes DPRK leader's New Year address

S. Korean president welcomes DPRK leader's New Year address

After a year dominated by fiery rhetoric and escalating tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme, the North Korean leader declared his country "a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power" and call for lower military tensions and improved ties with the South.

Kim said that rather than encouraging us 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".

Kim's comments on Monday were the first indication of North Korea's willingness to participate in the Winter Games, which run from February 9 to 25.

If Kim can make it through 2018 without being annihilated in a war with the US or somehow forced to relinquish his WMDs, North Korea will likely become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state sometime this year, with all the deterrent capability and geopolitical clout that entails.

On Sunday South Korean officials said they seized a second ship they suspected of transferring oil to North Korea. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce worldwide isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

While he remained defiant in his confrontation with Donald Trump, he struck a more conciliatory note on relations with South Korea, offering to start talks on sending a North Korean delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

South Korea has seized and inspected a Panama-flagged ship suspected of selling oil to North Korea at sea in violation of United Nations sanctions, maritime authorities said, according to Yonhap News Agency reported.

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.

Kim said: "The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation, and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results. To this end, the two Koreas can immediately meet", Kim said in a new year's message reported by the North's state media. How things turn out, he said, rests on whether China puts more pressure North Korea.

An official from South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the 5,100-ton KOTI and its crew members were being held at Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on the country's west coast amid an inspection over supposed "North Korea-related" activity.

"Since we are compatriots of the same blood as south Koreans, it is natural for us to share their pleasure over the auspicious event and help them", Kim said in his address.

The Peace House is a building in Panmunjom controlled by South Korea.

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