North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he is open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart.
But in a nationally televised new year’s speech, the leader of the reclusive communist state stressed that Pyongyang would continue to strengthen its military amid an atmosphere of distrust and tension.
Kim said he saw no reason why there should not be a summit with South Korean president Park Geun-hye or top-level talks if Seoul sincerely wanted better ties. However, he said his country would maintain its dual policy of developing its military and its nuclear capabilities, while trying to diversify its economy and raise the national standard of living.
His call for improving inter-Korea relations comes as Pyongyang faces criticism over its human rights record and souring ties with Washington over claims it was involved in the massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures, which has caused major damage to the company and clouded the release of The Interview, a black comedy that portrayed an assassination attempt on Kim. North Korea denies involvement.
The 30-minute speech was the third Kim has delivered on New Year’s Day and the first after the end of the traditional three-year mourning of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.
Some analysts believe that with the mourning period over, Kim will pursue policies that more closely reflect his own personal priorities.
Kim indicated he would stick to the country’s military first policy and criticised South Korea and the USs for military exercises.
He also suggested that he would pursue science, technology and economic policies aimed at improving the impoverished nation’s standard of living.
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