Kim gains more power in North Korea leadership shuffle

Erika Holt
April 14, 2019

"What is needed is for the United States to stop its current way of calculation, and come to us with a new calculation", Kim said in a speech to the Supreme People's Assembly on Friday, KCNA said.

South Korea has called for easing sanctions on North Korea by lifting restrictions on suspended cross-border projects, believing that they could incentivize the North to return to the negotiating table.

Kim Yong Nam, the now-91-year-old who held the position of the North's head of state - an nearly entirely ceremonial role - for nearly 20 years, was replaced by Choe Ryong Hae, the state-run KCNA said.

In Hanoi, Pyongyang offered to close its main nuclear facility in return for sanctions relief, but Washington sought a "big deal" comprising - in details which have emerged post-summit - the demand that North Korea surrender all its nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction.

"The US said recently that it is thinking again of a third DPRK-US summit and have been strongly implying problem-solving through dialogue", Kim continued.

"As President Trump keeps saying, the personal ties between me and him are not hostile like the relations between the two countries and we still maintain good relations, as to be able to exchange letters asking about health anytime if we want", Kim said.

Experts said while it kept the window open for diplomacy, it didn't offer much hope for substantive progress, while all the time North Korea continues to expand its nuclear arsenal.

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Meanwhile ahead if his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, Mr Trump was upbeat about a possible third nuclear summit with the North Korean leader.

The US president went on to praise North Korean potential under Kim's leadership. The current USA policy of sanctions and pressure is "as foolish and risky an act as trying to put out fire with oil", he added. He said the North would not compromise on the "fundamental interests of our country and people, even by a speck", and blamed the United States for arriving in Hanoi with "completely unrealizable plans".

The two leaders met for the first time in Singapore a year ago. The first Trump-Kim summit took place on June 12, 2018 in Singapore.

The North Korean dictator also issued a stern warning and indicated his country would not be bullied by the USA and stated its position would remain unchanged even if the nations met "a hundred thousand times".

"The situation is a clear reminder of the South Korean authorities' diehard intent on military stand-off despite their outwardly hand-shake for reconciliation", KCNA said.

"We will wait with patience until the end of the year for the United States to make a courageous decision", Kim said.

But the lack of substantial disarmament commitments from the North and the deepening impasse in nuclear negotiations have fueled doubts over whether Kim would ever voluntarily relinquish an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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