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Overture by North Korea Meant to Strain US Relations with South Korea?

01-02-2018

There could be a hidden agenda behind the overture made on New Years day by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

During his annual address, Kim said his regime completed its arsenal and a nuclear button is now on his desk--with the US mainland in striking range. 

He then, however, went on to make peaceful gestures to South Korea, saying he wished success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South in February, even suggesting he may send a delegation to participate.

He also called for improved relations with the South, saying the two Koreas should meet soon to discuss the North sending a delegation to the Olympics.

Analysts for the New York Times say this is a "canny new strategy," on behalf of the North, to drive a wedge between the US and South Korea. 

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has long argued for dialogue with the North, while President Trump prefers the tougher stance of punishing sanctions.

Until now, the North has largely ignored South Korean President Moon's attempts at diplomacy.

"...the dramatic shift in tone and policy, toward bilateral talks between the two Koreas, suggests that Mr. Kim sees an opportunity to develop and accentuate the split between Mr. Moon and Mr. Trump, betting that the United States will be unable to mount greater pressure on the North if it does not have South Korean acquiescence," reads an analysis by the New York Times. 

So far, the approach appears to be working. Only hours after Kim Jong-un's speech, President Moon's office welcomed the idea of holding talks. 

"We have already expressed our willingness to engage in a dialogue with North Korea at any time, in any place and in any format, as long as both sides can discuss restoring their relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula," said presidential spokesman, Park Soo-hyun.

This comes only days after the US rallied its allies and rivals in the United Nations to support another tough round of sanctions against North Korea.

 

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