S.Korea welcomes Kim's offer for dialogue

South Korea's Moon says better inter-Korean relations linked to resolving North Korea nuclear issue

Never in history have North Korea and the U.S. been closer to a nuclear war, a retired U.S. Navy admiral said on Sunday morning. That year, the Supreme People's Assembly promulgated an ordinance on North Korea's position as a "nuclear weapons state".

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading worldwide sanctions by trading with North Korea, officials said Sunday. "They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality", Kim said.

But far from persuading Kim to give up his nuclear drive, analysts say Trump's tough talk may have prompted the North Korean leader to drive through with his risky quest.

His comments come after a former top U.S. military officer warned that the United States is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with the North, with little hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea in violation of worldwide sanctions, a customs official said Sunday.

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Choi Moon-soon, governor of Gangwon Province where the Pyeongchang Olympics is set to be held, has proposed South Korea would send cruise ships to bring North Korean athletes and officials to Pyeongchang, according to South Korean media.

Choi met North Korea's sports official Mun Woong in China on December 18 on the sidelines of a worldwide youth football tournament where North and South Korea soccer teams competed, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported.

Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease global isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

But Park did not refer to Kim's order to mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles, as well as speeding up their deployment. Trump has nicknamed Kim "Little Rocket Man" and referred to his weight, while the North Korean leader has called the US president a "dotard" and warned of the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history".

Possible inter-Korean talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but could also weaken US -led global pressure on the North. He also did not touch on Kim's demand that Seoul cancel its annual joint military exercises with the United States.


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