Kim Jong-un Wants to Send Delegation to Pyeongchang Olympics

RTX3ZSUA

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly expressed his hope that the North will participate in the Winter Games.

"We look forward to candidly discussing interests from both sides face-to-face with North Korea along with the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics", Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon told reporters. But if there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015.

Presidential office spokesperson Park Soo-hyun was speaking after Pyongyang's state-run TV channel aired Kim's New Year address on Monday. Kim Jong-un, while acknowledging the "unprecedented" level of sanctions the country had endured in 2017, said that North Korea would have to improve its "ability to be self-reliant".

"I regret the government had even lost the flexibility to spend one day or two taking a deep breath and meticulously analysing Kim Jong Un's ulterior motive before hastily issuing a welcoming statement", he said.

South Korea says it is inspecting a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading global sanctions by trading with North Korea.

"The change from the (Kim's) previous dark Maoist suits to a softer toned grey Western-style suit likely aimed to underpin peace which Kim stressed in his address, and reflected a relaxed state of mind that probably came with the completion of the North's nuclear power", the Institute said.




But he also hinted at diplomatic overtures to South Korea amid increasingly crippling sanctions.

Kim said in a New Year's Day speech on Monday he would consider sending a delegation to the Olympics.

"The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results", he said.

Possible inter-Korean talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but could also weaken US -led global pressure on the North.

Kim also said he was open to dialogue with Seoul, prompting South Korea on Tuesday to propose high-level talks between the two countries on January 9 at the border truce village of Panmunjeom.

The U.N. Security Council last month unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.

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