Kim Jong-un threatens return to nuclear stand-off

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

During his televised New Year's speech, Kim said he's ready to meet with Trump at any time to produce an outcome "welcomed by the worldwide community".

Mr Kim was referring to his summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, when he said he had "fruitful talks" and "exchanged constructive ideas".

His previous New Year's addresses had taken place in more formal settings, with Kim standing at a podium. These are the Gaeseong industrial park in North Korea, where South Korean factories use North Korean labor, and the Mount Geumgang resort in North Korea.

If precedent is any indication, the North Korean leader will go into some detail outlining, sector by sector, the country's successes so far and emphasizing what remains to be done.

Pyongyang has demanded Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War in response to its unilateral steps toward denuclearization - including a moratorium on atomic tests, longer-range missile launches and closure of key sites.

"Now that North and South Korea decided on the path of peace and prosperity, we insist that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war weapons such as outside strategic assets should be completely stopped", Kim said. "The challenge, however, is will Team Trump be willing to back away from its position of zero sanctions relief?" said Harry J. Kazianis at the Washington-based Centre for the National Interest.

But while South and North Korea have continued to mend their relations over the past year, denuclearisation negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington appear to have stalled.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump shake hands during their first meeting in Singapore in June 2018.

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Trump has said he would like to hold a summit with Kim in January or February.

The North Korean leader made it clear that going back to saber-rattling is not what he wants: "If the US responds to our active and preemptive efforts with trustworthy steps and corresponding behavior, [North Korea-US relations] will move forward at an excellent and fast pace", he stated, as cited by Yonhap.

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

"Now that North and South Korea made a decision to take the path of peace and prosperity, we demand that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as foreign strategic assets should be completely stopped", Kim said.

A meeting between North Korean officials and USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo was cancelled by the North at the last minute in November and has yet to be rescheduled.

The two leaders traded personal insults - Trump mocked Kim as "Little Rocket Man", who in turn called him a "mentally deranged USA dotard" - and threats of war as fears of conflict rose. 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.

"My sense is that Kim wants to portray himself as a legitimate leader in the global community both superior to Moon Jae-in and an equal to Donald Trump", Maxwell wrote.

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