North Korea's Kim Signals Olympics Truce, Seeks Talks With Seoul

South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's speech at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul South Korea Monday Jan. 1 2018. The letters read on top left

North Korea's Kim Signals Olympics Truce, Seeks Talks With Seoul

Moon's comments came after a New Year's Day speech by Kim who said he was "open to dialogue" with Seoul, and for North Korean athletes to possibly take part in the Winter Games, but steadfastly declared North Korea a nuclear power.

After reiterating that his country had "completed" its nuclear deterrent against the United States - a fact that its state media proclaimed following the successful flight-test of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental-range ballistic missile on November 29 - Kim added that he had a "nuclear button" physically installed on his desk in his office.

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.

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Early Sunday retired U.S. Navy admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, said America and North Korea are closer to conflict "than we've ever been". In the meantime, North Korea is also believed to be developing biological weapons and submarine-based missiles and honing its skills at cyber warfare (the USA recently accused the regime of being behind the global WannaCry ransomware attack last May). The North was subsequently hit with toughened United Nations sanctions, and Kim and President Donald Trump exchanged warlike rhetoric and crude personal insults against each other.

It also comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said improvement of inter-Korean relations was linked to resolving the North's nuclear programme. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce global isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, said it welcomed North Korean participation and would "discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee".

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Kim used his annual New Year address to warn he has a "nuclear button" on his table, but sweetened his remarks by expressing an interest in dialogue and participating in the Pyeongchang Games.

The sanctions on North Korea were imposed previous year after it carried out a series of tests of ballistics missiles that could be armed with a nuclear warhead and underground nuclear weapons tests. "These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened". He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation.

The Peace House is a building in Panmunjom controlled by South Korea.

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