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North Korean leader warns of possible change in direction if sanctions continue

01 January 2019
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a speech broadcast on state TV on 1 January 2019. Kim warned that Pyongyang “might be compelled to explore a new path” if Washington does not ease the sanctions imposed against the country. Source: Via KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced in his New Year's Day address that he is committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and willing to meet again with US President Donald Trump, but warned that Pyongyang "might be compelled to explore a new path" if Washington does not ease the sanctions imposed against the country.

Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying that he wants to establish "a new relationship" between the United States and North Korea, set up a "permanent and durable peace mechanism" in the Korean Peninsula, and "completely denuclearise it", as stipulated in a statement signed between the two countries on 12 June in Singapore.

Kim also said that he is "always ready to sit together with the US president at any time and will make efforts to produce an outcome that the international community would welcome". That said, he warned that North Korea could be left with no choice but to seek a new path to defend its sovereignty if Washington fails to make good on its promise, misjudges the patience of the Korean people - while seeking to force things unilaterally - and "remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure" on the country.

Kim also expressed his will to boost inter-Korean co-operation and exchanges, noting that "it is our fixed will to completely end the military hostility between the North and the South and turn the Korean Peninsula into a zone of permanent and durable peace".

According to the Yonhap News Agency, Kim also renewed his calls for a complete end to joint military drills between South Korea and the United States and demanded that no foreign military strategic assets be brought onto the Korean Peninsula, saying that they are a "source" of tensions in the region.

"We will never tolerate outside interferences and interventions intended to block our way towards reconciliation, unity, and unification of our people while trying to make our relations scummy to their states and interests," he was quoted as saying.

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