Kim Jong-un extends olive branch to South Korea's Olympic Games


Dovish South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who has long favoured engagement to defuse tensions with the North, earlier Tuesday welcomed Kim's suggestion that there could be an opportunity to kick-start dialogue.

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.

"The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table", he said, according to the Associated Press translation, in a speech carried by state television. But Kim also repeated that South Korea must stop annual military exercises with the United States, which he calls an invasion rehearsal against the North.

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

The minister said communication channels between the two Koreas in Panmunjom should be restored immediately to hold the inter-Korean, inter-governmental talks, suggesting to discuss details on the January 9 dialogue, such as setting agenda and forming delegations through the restored communication channels.

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The Koreas, divided by the demilitarised zone since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, last held high-level talks in 2015 in an effort to ease border tensions. Kim added the goal for 2018 is to "mass produce and deploy nuclear warheads and missiles".

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of worldwide sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were scheduled to be held in February in South Korea's namesake county of PyeongChang in the eastern Gangwon province.

After North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November, which it said was capable of delivering a warhead to anywhere in the United States, Kim declared his nuclear force complete.

His annual speech serves as a indication of his priorities for 2018. (This may not be the case in a crisis, where Kim Jong-un may be forced to tolerate some level of predelegation to retain credible retaliatory capability.) Kim, nevertheless, appeared pleased with his arrangement: "The U.S. could never launch a military attack on me", he said. If the Olympics become a vehicle for rapprochement between the Koreas, and especially if that entails a pause in our war games, Kim may be trying to get the tail to wag the dog, forcing Washington to follow Seoul's lead into détente.