Kim Jong-un Calls for 'Highest-Level' Talks with Seoul

      January 02, 2015 09:32

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un raised the possibility of an inter-Korean summit in his televised New Year's address on Thursday.

      "Depending on the mood and circumstances to be created, we have no reason not to hold the highest-level talks," he said in a pre-recorded message overlaid with canned applause.

      The New Year's address, which lasted almost half an hour, called for efforts to "open a grand path for reunification."

      This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korea's independence from Japanese colonial rule and the formation of two separate governments in the North and South.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gives a New Year's address on Thursday, in this photo released by the Rodong Sinmun.

      Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in a press briefing on Thursday that Seoul welcomes the "progress in stance" by the North. Ryoo added that "concrete and frank discussions" are necessary if a summit is to take place and expressed hope that dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang would happen in the near future.

      Kim's address generally struck a more conciliatory note than recent official rhetoric. "If South Korean authorities sincerely want to mend ties with, we can resume various talks including high-level dialogue." He vowed to make "every effort" to advance dialogue.

      The leaders of both Koreas have been invited to the Russian celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in May of this year, but whether Kim will attend and the two can meet on the sidelines remains to be seen.

      Kim took a more belligerent line against the U.S., which he accused of encroaching on the North’s sovereignty. He said the threat of war increased on the Korean peninsula due to the "hostile policies" of the U.S. and accused Washington of engaging in a "dirty human rights fuss."

      But he also urged that the U.S. to shift its stance, which was interpreted as hinting that the North is willing to engage in talks about improving ties.

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