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North Korea warns of 'new path', but options limited

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In this undated image from video distributed on Tuesday Jan. 1 2019 by North Korean broadcaster KRT North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a speech in North Korea. North Korean leader Kim says he hopes to extend his high-stakes nuclear summitry with

Regarding relations with the US, Kim said he was ready to meet with US President Donald Trump again at any time, but warned he would "find a new path" if the US were to test North Koreans' patience with sanctions and pressure.

At the summit, the president hailed a new beginning in U.S.

One thing that was different from past speeches by the North Korean leader was that it was "a relaxed, indoor setting, with him sitting in a comfortable chair rather than standing and speaking in a huge square", the Korea Times said.

Kim, meanwhile, also called for stronger ties with South Korea and announced a willingness to resume two inter-Korean cooperative projects in the North - Kaesong Industrial park and Mount Kumgang tourist resort - which had been halted due to strained relations.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

Since the Singapore summit where Kim committed to working toward denuclearization, talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled due to their differences over the sequencing of denuclearization.

President Trump has said he expects a second summit to take place as early as February but there has been no confirmation yet.

"Chairman Kim's firm commitment is expected to have a positive effect on resolving the Korean Peninsula issue smoothly in the new year", Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said. China has been the key benefactor for North Korea's economy.

"If the USA responds to our initiative and pre-emptive efforts by taking reliable and corresponding practical action, our relationship will continue to progress at an excellent and great speed through the process of taking more concrete and groundbreaking measures", Kim said.

"Over the previous year, signs of continued work on the arsenal were alarming but not duplicitous, because there was never a commitment to stop those activities", Mount said.

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Kim Jong-un "obviously had certain expectations that the USA would take certain steps - however rudimentary they are - after the North blew up a nuclear test site and took other steps, but none of them materialized", he said.

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

He also urged the USA to completely halt its suspended joint military exercises with ally South Korea.

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

Kim said that North Korea had already pledged not to make, use or spread nuclear weapons and had taken concrete steps to implement this.

A key theme in Kim's address was the economy - it made up the bulk of his speech - and the impact of sanctions.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump met for the first time in Singapore in June but, despite a great deal of hype, the resulting agreements were vague on how denuclearisation would be achieved.

Kim Joon-hyung, a professor of worldwide politics at Handong Global University, said one possible scenario was the North's dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear complex, as offered at an inter-Korean summit in September in Pyongyang, and acknowledging some facilities in return for eased sanctions, such as a partial restart of inter-Korean economic projects. He also warned that the United States should not misjudge North Korea's "patience". Sanctions have also been strengthened since the meeting with Mr Trump. While Pyongyang conducted no nuclear or missile tests past year, satellite images have pointed to continued activity at related facilities.

As for Japan, it remains unclear if Kim is truly open to a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, though he hinted past year at the possibility "at an appropriate time", according to South Korea's Moon.

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