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USA and North Korea set stage for second summit

02 January 2019

Kim made the remarks during his New Year's speech broadcast by the country's state television, also urging the take corresponding measures in exchange for denuclearization steps the communist nation has taken so far.

He said he would work towards "a result that will be welcomed by the worldwide community" and said relations between the US and North Korea would move at a "fast speed" if America was willing to work with his own administration. Washington and Pyongyang appear to have interpreted what exactly this means differently. Sanctions have also been strengthened since the meeting with Mr Trump.

In a closely watched New Year address, Kim Jong-un, the 30-something leader of the world's most secretive regime, expressed hope for more talks with Donald Trump about that often repeated word: denuclearisation.

U.S. officials say those initial steps were not confirmed and can be easily reversed, and have called for strict sanctions enforcement on the impoverished country until full, verifiable disarmament.

Kim called his June summit meeting with Trump "instructive" and said they had shared "constructive opinions" on mutual concerns and "speedy solutions to the tangled issues" they faced.

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"Now that North and South Korea decided on the path of peace and prosperity, we insist that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war weapons such as outside strategic assets should be completely stopped", Kim said.

Speculation of a second Trump-Kim summit has ebbed and flowed, with the USA president saying that he hoped it would take place early this year.

Seoul and Washington are in a security alliance and the United States stations 28,500 troops in the South. Instead, Mr Kim said that his patience with the US-led sanctions regime designed as punishment for his nuclear weapons programme was running out. North Korea seemingly seeks to include China, one of its closest allies, in the talks for more leverage, experts have noted.

While Kim's address included conditions for further talks with the US, Seoul welcomed the speech as a sign of the North Korean leader's willingness to improve inter-Korean relations and achieve denuclearization.

Since the Singapore summit where Kim committed to working toward denuclearization, talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled due to their differences over the sequencing of denuclearization. However, neither step will be possible unless sanctions are lifted.

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It came after a year of high tensions when the North made rapid progress with its weapons development, carrying out its sixth nuclear test - by far its most powerful to date - and launching rockets capable of reaching the entire U.S. mainland.

More imminently Mr Kim used this year's address to again urge the USA to lift sanctions that continue to punish North Korea for developing the nuclear weapons and missiles.

The South's dovish President Moon Jae-in, who played a role of peace broker between the two mercurial leaders, met Kim three times a year ago - twice at the border truce village of Panmunjom and once in Pyongyang.

This year's speech drew intense attention, coming as U.S.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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A meeting between North Korean officials and U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo was cancelled by the North at the last minute in November and has yet to be rescheduled. Over the past year, the North destroyed a nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri in the presence of worldwide reporters, returned the remains of United States soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War and released detained U.S. citizens.

USA and North Korea set stage for second summit