S.Korea welcomes Kim's offer for dialogue

Laura Christensen
January 2, 2018

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

If realized, the talks would mark the first inter-Korean dialogue since the Moon Jae-in government was sworn in last May.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year's address in Pyongyang on Monday, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television.

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading global sanctions by trading with North Korea, officials said Sunday.

But the North has not answered a call by the South since it severed the channel in February 2016 in an angry protest against Seoul's shutdown of an inter-Korean industrial complex.

South Korea has seized and inspected a Panama-flagged ship suspected of selling oil to North Korea at sea in violation of United Nations sanctions, maritime authorities said, according to Yonhap News Agency reported.

An official from the Pyeongtaek Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries, who also requested anonymity, confirmed that the vessel had been disallowed from leaving the port since December 21.

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This week's exchanges follow a year dominated by fiery threats form Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump who vowed to destroy North Korea if threatened, even as U.S. diplomats pushed for a diplomatic solution.

An official from South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the 5,100-ton KOTI was being held at Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on the country's west coast.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday claimed he has a nuclear button installed in his office and is ready to strike at any time.

'The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results, ' he said.

Despite the apparent olive branch, Kim also repeated claims that he could hit anywhere in the US with a nuclear weapon, and called for mass production of nuclear warheads.

"Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility", Kim said.

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.

Other reports by My Hot News

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