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North Korea's Kim Jong Un gives U.S. to year-end to become more flexible


Saturday April 13, 2019


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes part in the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang in this April 10, 2019 photo released on April 11, 2019 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the breakdown in talks with the United States has raised the risks of reviving tensions, and he is only interested in meeting President Donald Trump again if the United States comes with the right attitude, state media KCNA said on Saturday.

Kim said that he will wait “until the end of this year” for the United States to decide to be more flexible, according to KCNA.

“What is needed is for the U.S. to stop its current way of calculation, and come to us with a new calculation,” Kim said in a speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday, KCNA said.

Trump and Kim have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June, building goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump said on Thursday he is open to meeting Kim again, but in his speech on Friday, the North Korean leader said the outcome in Hanoi led him to question the strategy he embraced last year of international engagement and talks with the United States.

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The Hanoi summit “raised strong questions about whether the steps we took under our strategic decision were right, and gave us a sense of caution about whether the U.S. is even really trying to improve the DPRK-U.S. relationship,” Kim said, using the initials of North Korea’s full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In Hanoi, the United States came with “completely unrealisable plans” and was “not really ready to sit with us face-to-face and solve the problem,” Kim said.

“By that sort of thinking, the U.S. will not be able to move us one iota even if they sat with us a hundred, thousand times, and will not be able to get what it wants at all,” he said.

“I will be patient and wait until the end of this year for America’s courageous decision, but it will be hard to get as good a chance as last time,” Kim added.

Kim’s comments signal he won’t cling to talks with the United States forever, said Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in South Korea.

“That probably indicates that the North is triggering plans to diversify its diplomatic relations with other countries,” he said.

THIRD SUMMIT IN DOUBT

Kim said that his personal relationship with Trump is still good, but that he had no interest in a third summit if it were a repeat of Hanoi.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon in Washington on Thursday, Trump expressed a willingness for a third summit with Kim but said that Washington would leave sanctions in place on Pyongyang.

Kim said U.S. leaders “mistakenly believe that if they pressure us to the maximum, they can subdue us.” The current U.S. policy of sanctions and pressure is “like trying to put out a fire with oil,” he added.

Still, Kim said he would not hesitate to sign an agreement if it takes into account both countries’ considerations.

The United States had continued to provoke North Korea by testing an anti-ballistic missile system and conducting military drills with South Korea despite Trump’s announcement that large-scale exercises would end, he said.

Last month, a senior North Korean official warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests in place since 2017 unless Washington makes concessions such as easing sanctions.

South Korea’s Blue House said in a statement that officials would “do what we can in order to maintain the current momentum for dialogue and help negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea resume at an early date.”

Kim complained that Washington is coercing South Korea into abiding by sanctions and not pushing forward with inter-Korea projects.

North Korea has a choice “to continue to improve inter-Korean relations to relieve pressure on the Korean peninsula or to go back to the past when things collapsed amid increasing risks of war,” he said.

Still, North Korea is committed to better North-South relations and peaceful unification, Kim said.

“I would like to make it clear that it is my unwavering determination to make a new history of peace and prosperity,” he said.

Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Sandra Maler, Cynthia Osterman and Gerry Doyle



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