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Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:02 - Updated Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:00

South Korea offers talks with defiant North ahead of Olympics

SEOUL - South Korea on Tuesday offered talks with North Korea amid a standoff over its weapons programmes, a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he was open to negotiations but that his country would push ahead with “mass producing” nuclear warheads.

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North Korea would focus in 2018 on “mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment”.

“The whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office and this is just a reality, not a threat,” he said, while emphasising that the weapons would only be used if North Korea was threatened.

The U.S. State Department did not respond to a requests for comment on Kim’s address, but analysts said it was an attempt to weaken the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

The Commerce Ministry in China, North Korea’s lone major ally, also said it will continue to fully implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

Trump said on Twitter last week that China has been “caught” allowing oil into North Korea and said such moves would prevent “a friendly solution” to the crisis. Reuters

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