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Kim calls for improved U.S. relations in New Year's address

"I am ready to sit with the U.S. president again at any time in the future," Kim Jong-un said during his New Year's Day address.

By
Brooks Hays
This image released by the North Korean Official News Service shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he delivered a 30-minute New Year address on state television. Kim declared that he would have no choice but to act if Washington continued to ramp up sanctions on North Korea. Photo by KCNA/UPI
This image released by the North Korean Official News Service shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he delivered a 30-minute New Year address on state television. Kim declared that he would have "no choice" but to act if Washington continued to ramp up sanctions on North Korea. Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- In his New Year's Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un affirmed his country's commitment to denuclearization and called on improved relations with the United States and South Korea.

However, according to ABC News, Kim also warned that North Korea would take a "new path" if the United States opts to "break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure."

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The leader's 30-minute address was broadcast on North Korea's state television.

President Donald Trump and Kim met last year in Singapore, the first diplomatic relations between the two countries. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been trying to arrange a second meeting.

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As Al Jazeera reported, Kim made clear his willingness to participate in a second summit.

"I am ready to sit with the U.S. president again at any time in the future and will make efforts by all means to produce a result that will be welcomed by the international community," Kim said.

According to Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, the New Year's Day address was markedly different from past speeches in both style and substance.

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"Gone was the imposing podium of previous years, it was more like a fireside chat from a warm study overlooked by portraits of his father and grandfather," said McBride. "A year ago, he spoke about nuclear weapons almost in terms of bragging -- that North Korea had now achieved the possession of a nuclear arsenal. This time, he made a very different pledge about nuclear weapons."

During the speech, the North Korean leader also pledged to improve relations with China and South Korea. Specifically, Kim said North Korea would resume two currently halter construction projects in partnership with North Korea, Kaesong industrial park and Mount Kumgang tourist resort.

Kim's promise of continued diplomatic relations with the U.S. were qualified. Kim called for sanctions against North Korea to be lifted, and also called on South Korea to stop participating in joint military exercises with the U.S.

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Though several experts described the speech as unprecedented, some analysts interpreted the qualifications as more of the same.

"North Korea has again restated its position, which remains unchanged," Go Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told Bloomberg News. "The prospect of the second U.S.-DPRK summit taking place soon is not any better than yesterday."

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