[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korea 'carefully' mulling timing of offering talks with NK

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North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, Japan and the United States and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter US aggression.

Dressed in a western-style grey suit and tie, Kim added, however, that the North's nuclear arsenal played a purely deterrent role.

"It's about time that the North and the South sit down and seriously discuss how to improve inter-Korean relations by ourselves and dramatically open up", Kim said on Monday.

South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, has encouraged Pyongyang to send a delegation to the Games, hoping their presence would help ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Analysts said Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease worldwide isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's November 29 ballistic missile test, seeking to further strangle its energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.

[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korea 'carefully' mulling timing of offering talks with NK
[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korea 'carefully' mulling timing of offering talks with NK

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, with their son Barron, arrive for a New Year's Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2017.

Possible inter-Korean talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but could also weaken USA -led worldwide pressure on the North. But U.S. -based experts saw Kim's speech as a clear attempt to divide Seoul from its main ally, Washington, which has led an worldwide campaign to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up weapons programs aimed at developing nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

After a year in which he ordered a string of missile launches - including three intercontinental ballistic missiles - and the regime's sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Kim used his annual New Year's Day address to declare the North's nuclear weapons capability a reality.

He used the message to warn the United States that the country is now in range of his nuclear warheads. The Olympics in Pyeongchang are about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the North Korean border, prompting concerns that North Korea might disrupt the event.

The United States has also pressured China and other nations to cut trade and diplomatic ties with North Korea, as part of worldwide efforts to dry up Pyongyang's illegal cash flows that could fund its weapons programs.

His annual speech serves as a indication of his priorities for 2018.

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