Kim Jong-un letter to Seoul asks for more summits in 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left and South Korean President Moon Jae-in cross the border line at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. South Korea says Sunday Dec. 30 2018 North Korean

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left and South Korean President Moon Jae-in cross the border line at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. South Korea says Sunday Dec. 30 2018 North Korean

It was sent days before Kim delivers his annual New Year's Day speech, which will be examined for signs of whether the USA and North Korea will continue with their rapprochement or drift back toward confrontation.

South Korea's Presidential Office says it received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday afternoon - ahead of the New Year, .in which he promised to work toward peace and prosperity in 2019.

Through three summits between Moon and Kim this year, the Koreas agreed to a variety of goodwill gestures and vowed to resume economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that global sanctions could end to allow such activity. The two sides have clashed over the pace and sequence of talks, with North Korea demanding relief from global sanctions and the USA seeking more steps toward disarmament. In his meetings with Moon and Trump, Kim signed on to vague statements calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when or how it would occur. With global sanctions squeezing the country's trade flow and cash supply, any clues about the North Korean economy or Kim's growth strategies will be closely examined.

Moon Jae-in, in a message posted on Facebook, stressed Kim's willingness to comply with the South Korean and US agreements on the issue, but acknowledged that many obstacles remain to be overcome.

The closely choreographed event will be scrutinized for signs on whether Kim wants to continue the diplomatic push - including a possible second summit with Trump - or draw a harder line against giving up his weapons.




Kim's letter made no mention of Trump or the U.S.

North Korea could acquire up to 100 warheads by 2020 despite stopping nuclear and missile tests this year, NBC quoted an expert as speculating Friday.

Kim added that he was sorry his plan to visit Seoul later this year - in what was to be their fourth meeting of 2018 - did not take place as agreed at their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

The North's leader "expressed a strong determination to visit Seoul while watching future situation", Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters. The U.S. granted an exemption on sanctions against the North to give it access to materials needed for the projects.

"Chairman Kim said that the two leaders have induced practical and aggressive measures that go beyond the long-running confrontation by meeting three times in a year and emphasized that they have liberated their people from military tensions and fear of war", he added.

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