NKorean leader says he's ready for more talks with Trump

During his televised New Year's speech Kim Jong Un said he's ready to meet with Donald Trump again

EVAN VUCCI APDuring his televised New Year's speech Kim Jong Un said he's ready to meet with Donald Trump again

In marked contrast with January 1, 2018, when he ordered mass production of nuclear warheads, Kim said the North had "declared that we would no longer produce, test, use or spread our nuclear arsenal", calling for the United States to take "corresponding measures".

"I am ready to sit face to face with the U.S. president again at any time going forward, and will make efforts to produce an outcome the worldwide community would welcome", he said in an apparent response to a series of conciliatory gestures from the US.

"If the U.S. does not keep its promise made in front of the whole world. and insists on sanctions and pressures on our republic", Kim said on Tuesday, "we may be left with no choice but to consider a new way to safeguard our sovereignty and interests".

Kim urged the U.S.to take "sincere measures and corresponding action" in response to North Korea's peace initiatives.

But for most of his 30-minute speech, he focused on North Korea's economy and said he stands ready to resume projects with South Korea and restart operations at a jointly run factory park in the border town of Kaesong.

"If the United States takes honest measures and corresponding action to our leading and pre-emptive efforts, then relations will advance at a fast and excellent pace through the process of implementing definite and groundbreaking measures", he said.

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Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have come a long way since the two leaders' exchanges of threats and insults in 2017, against a background of provocative missile tests by North Korea.

He also said the US and South Korea should no longer carry out joint military exercises - which have been largely halted since the Singapore meeting - calling such drills "a source of tension".

Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the feel was reminiscent of the image Kim showed the world in June in Singapore, when he held his first and only summit with President Donald Trump.

Kim and Trump vowed to work toward denuclearization and build a "lasting and stable" peace regime at their landmark summit in Singapore in June, but both sides have since been struggling to make progress.

Since then, the North has halted nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said. In late April, Kim Jong-гn announced that the country would suspend its ICBM launches and missile tests ahead of the summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump.

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Kim used his New Year's speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with Moon and Trump.

The North has also bristled at USA demands to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal.

In a recent letter to Moon, Kim wrote that he wants to "meet often" to "resolve together the issue of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula".

It came after a year of high tensions when the North made rapid progress in its weapons programmes and fears of conflict rose. North Korea always interprets "denuclearization" to mean removing or limiting all nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, including those deployed to protect South Korea.

North Korea's media have slammed the US for clinging to sanctions without honoring its promises to Pyongyang.

Some experts say it's becoming clear the North intends to keep a nuclear arsenal and turn the talks with the United States into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation between two nuclear states, rather than a unilateral process of surrendering its arsenal.

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In the clip, Trump claimed his government had taken steps to improve USA relations with North Korea.

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