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N.K. leader could put forward new negotiating card in New Year's address: expert

North Korea 15:17 December 13, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could put forward a new negotiating card in the stalled denuclearization talks with the United States when he delivers a New Year's Day address, an expert said Thursday.

Kim has used his annual New Year's Day speech to outline policy priorities and goals for the new year. The upcoming address comes as nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled over the North's demand for sanctions relief and the U.S.' demand for more denuclearization measures.

"North Korea must be seriously contemplating how to respond to the sanctions that have become even stronger since the Singapore summit between the North and the U.S.," Hong Min, an analyst at the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification, said during a discussion in Seoul.

Kim could present a "slightly hard-line or conservative message toward the U.S. or a new negotiating framework," the expert said. Given Pyongyang's restraint in criticism of the U.S. in recent months, however, Kim is not expected to break off negotiations, he said.

Despite the current impasse, relations between the U.S. and the North are expected to move forward in the new year, said Kim Sang-ki, director of the unification policy research division at the think tank.

"If the deadlock is prolonged, it will put considerable political burdens on the governments of South Korea and the United States," he said. "It would also be difficult for North Korea to expect any outcome in its economic development drive."

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