North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned Washington not to test Pyongyang’s patience with sanctions and pressure.
Mr Kim was speaking during his televised New Year’s speech where he said he is ready to meet with US president Donald Trump at any time to produce an outcome “welcomed by the international community”.
However, he said the North will be forced to take a different path if the United States “continues to break its promises and misjudges the patience of our people by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure”.
Mr Kim also said the United States should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South.
Washington and Pyongyang are trying to arrange a second summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, who met in Singapore on June 12 last year.
“If the United States takes sincere measures and corresponding action to our leading and pre-emptive efforts, then (US-North Korea) relations will advance at a fast and excellent pace through the process of implementing (such) definite and groundbreaking measures,” said Mr Kim, who delivered the speech sitting on a leather chair, wearing a black suit and gray-blue tie.
“It is the unwavering position of our party and the republic’s government and my firm will that the two countries as declared in the June 12 joint statement … take steps to establish a permanent and stable peace regime and push toward the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
“Therefore, we have already declared domestically and internationally and took various actions showing our commitment that we will no further create or test nuclear weapons and will not use or spread them.”
Mr 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.
He used his New Year’s speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Mr Trump.
Mr 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.
But nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled in recent months as they struggle with the sequencing of North Korea’s disarmament and the removal of US-led sanctions against the North.