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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 2)

All News 06:59 January 02, 2020

N. Korea, US should meet
Kim Jong-un still has room for dialogue

After four days of an unexpectedly long ruling Workers' Party meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has revealed an idea for the New Year: Developing a new strategic weapon against the United States.

It has become apparent that the "Christmas gift" to U.S. President Donald Trump is the test of a long-range nuclear missile. This shouldn't happen, but the harsh reality is that we should brace for a new threat level from Pyongyang. The specter of a nuclear war is apparently casting a shadow over the Korean Peninsula.

So 2020 will be very much different from the past two years for all parties concerned with North Korea. Diplomacy should work to keep this fragile peace for us and our future generations.

The silver lining is that Kim still has room to negotiate with Washington. We hope the U.S. and North Korea will strive to find a breakthrough with renewed resolution. We believe Trump knows how to do this.

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency, Wednesday, Kim said during the Workers' Party Central Committee meeting that he sees no reason to stick to his commitment of suspending nuclear and long-range missile tests. "I will show off a new strategic weapon," the agency quoted Kim as saying.

However, the North Korean leader said how much the North bolsters its "nuclear deterrent" will depend on the future attitude of the U.S., suggesting the ball is in Washington's court now. "The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will never be realized unless the U.S. drops its hostile policy toward us," Kim said.

It is encouraging that the White House still has hopes for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. On Tuesday, the White House said President Trump's historic summits with Kim are among his top diplomatic achievements in office. "President Trump has held two historic summits with North Korea and earlier this year became the first president to cross the DMZ into North Korea," the White House said in a press release. "The administration has maintained tough sanctions on North Korea while negotiations have taken place." We are not sure whether this toned-down message will impress Kim, but we can see the U.S. trying to avoid a rhetorical war that could raise tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told Fox News he is hopeful that Kim will make the right decision to choose peace and prosperity over conflict and war. "It remains the case that we hope that Chairman Kim will take a different course," he said.

Seen from the New Year messages from the North and the U.S., at least one thing is clear. The deadlocked negotiations are not what they want, and they want to change the situation. A "grand bargain" is only a mythological concept; they should begin with small steps to rebuild mutual trust. Just meet and talk.
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