S. Korea proposes high-level dialogue with DPRK on January 9

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday the improvement of inter-Korean relations was linked to resolving North Korea's nuclear program, a day after the North offered talks with Seoul but was steadfast on its nuclear ambitions.

Talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but conservative critics worry that they may only earn the North time to ideal its nuclear weapons.

Departing from his usual black or navy suits, Kim gave his televised speech wearing black-rimmed glasses and slicked back hair, speaking fluently and rarely looking down to read as he raised the possibility of sending a delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Asked about Kim's claim that he has a nuclear button on his desk, and that the weapons can reach the US, Donald Trump said from his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago: "We'll see, we'll see".

Kim also stressed North Korea's economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation's standard of living.

Moon's unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, proposed in a nationally televised news conference that the two Koreas meet January 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

The minister said communication channels between the two Koreas in Panmunjom should be restored immediately to hold the inter-Korean, inter-governmental talks, suggesting to discuss details on the January 9 dialogue, such as setting agenda and forming delegations through the restored communication channels.

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Kim used his annual New Year address to warn he has a "nuclear button" on his table, but sweetened his remarks by expressing an interest in dialogue and participating in the Pyeongchang Games. How things turn out, he said, rests on whether China puts more pressure North Korea.

Turning to relations with South Korea, Kim said, "I sincerely hope the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be staged successfully".

Kim said in his speech Monday that North Korea a year ago achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces.

Tension has been high on the divided peninsula as the isolated North staged a series of nuclear and missile tests that sparked global alarm, and traded threats of war with the US.

Early Sunday retired U.S. Navy admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, said America and North Korea are closer to conflict "than we've ever been".

His annual speech serves as a indication of his priorities for 2018.

Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until last April and now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said there was an argument to be made to encourage North Korea's Olympic participation but that it should not be taken too far.