North Korea continues to develop its intercontinental ballistic missiles

North Korea continues to develop its intercontinental ballistic missiles

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was expected to deliver a New Year's address Tuesday, a speech that will be closely watched for signals as to where stalled nuclear talks with the US are headed.

The U.S. stance toward North Korea appears to have softened recently before and after an inter-Korean ceremony to mark the launch of railway and road projects involving the North and South. The Blue House didn't fully disclose Kim's letter.

Another speaker, in a reflection of the shift in perception towards Kim in South Korea, said: "Until now, we did not know Kim's true self".

The timing of the speech is unclear, since North Korea rarely provides advance notice about Kim's schedule.

North Korean state media said the removal of the U.S.'s nuclear weapons from the region was a condition of its own disarmament, raising the stakes for Trump's efforts to hold a second summit with Kim.

Talks between the USA and North Korea have made little progress since Trump and Kim held an unprecedented summit in June and signed to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", without defining the term or setting a deadline.

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The stalled negotiations had an impact on inter-Korean ties, including Kim's unrealised plan to visit Seoul this year as agreed at their summit in Pyongyang in September.

The president was also said to explain that the presidential office decided to make public the content of Kim's letter as it determined that the letter had special meaning. Kim had previously promised to be the first North Korean leader to travel to South Korea for a summit, according to Moon's office.

Moon later thanked Kim for his "warm" letter in a tweeted message and said without elaborating that Kim expressed strong willingness to carry out the agreements he made this year during a series of inter-Korean summits and a historic June meeting with President Donald Trump.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute, told CNN: "Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearization, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear armed missiles".

Kim Jong Un stated "an intention to meet with Moon frequently in 2019" to foster peace and "solve the issue of denuclearizing the [Korean] Peninsula together", the spokesman said.

Denuclearization talks, however, have been in a stalemate as Pyongyang wants sanctions relief for subsequent steps following the summit, while Washington is asking for more concrete measures before making major concessions.

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