Kim Jong Un's Fireside Chat Shows North Korea Bid for Acceptance

Kim Jong Un's Fireside Chat Shows North Korea Bid for Acceptance

Kim Jong Un's Fireside Chat Shows North Korea Bid for Acceptance

North Korea is subject to various sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its banned nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programmes.

Seoul and Washington are in a security alliance and the United States stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it against its neighbour, which invaded in 1950.

In December, Trump said that he hopes to meet Kim as soon as even this month or February, describing their relationship as "good" and even suggesting he might invite Kim to the White House.

Pyongyang conducted its latest missile launch in November past year.

Kim's speech was closely watched as North Korean leaders traditionally use New Year's statements to reflect on the past year and issue major policy goals for the year ahead.

"Now that North and South Korea chose to take the path of peace and prosperity, we demand that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as foreign strategic assets should be completely stopped", Kim said.

Washington halted some large-scale military exercises with Seoul to aid nuclear negotiations, but smaller drills have still been held.

Among the topics the leader is expected to address Tuesday are the state - and perhaps future - of denuclearization talks with the US, relations with South Korea and the Hermit Kingdom's economy, which has been tanked by sanctions from the USA and worldwide community after years of nuke tests.

However, US officials have indicated that the choking unilateral and global sanctions against North Korea, enforced by the US, are to remain fully in place.

Kim spoke sitting in a dark leather armchair, in a large office flanked with packed bookshelves along one side and paintings of his predecessors, his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung behind him.

North Korea has not responded to Washington's calls for senior working-level talks to follow up on the June 12 summit, apparently preferring to engage Trump rather than other United States officials in its negotiations.

His previous New Year's addresses had taken place in more formal settings, with Kim standing at a podium.

The two leaders traded personal insults - Trump mocked Kim as "Little Rocket Man", who in turn called him a "mentally deranged United States dotard" - and threats of war as fears of conflict rose.

On Sunday, Kim sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in calling for more summits in 2019 between the once-rival states. Kim also met three times with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which boosted his leverage by reintroducing Beijing - Pyongyang's main ally - as a major player in the diplomatic process to resolve the nuclear standoff.

"He appeared more confident than ever, emboldened by some of the progress he made a year ago, which also implies he thinks he has the upper edge in the negotiations with the United States as a nuclear-armed state", said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Much of Kim's speech Tuesday focussed on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task. Kim called for increasing electricity power generation in the country that battles chronic power shortages. Private analysts have accused North Korea of continuing nuclear and missile development, citing details from commercial satellite imagery.

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