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Pathway to peace

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By John Burton

U.S. commentary about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year speech last week was largely skeptical. The prevailing tone was that Pyongyang was up to its usual tricks.

It was suggested that Kim was seeking to split the U.S.-South Korean military alliance by praising inter-Korean reconciliation moves, while warning that Washington must do more to reduce tensions. He called for an end to military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea as well as "the introduction of war equipment including strategic assets from outside."

But what really grabbed the attention of U.S. commentators was Kim's implied threat "to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country" if the U.S. failed to ease economic sanctions and end other "hostile" measures.

Such views play into a broader narrative often heard in Washington that U.S. President Donald Trump's bold outreach to North Korea has produced few results so far and could eventually fail, raising prospects of renewed military tensions.

What has been largely lost in the critical commentary was Kim's declaration that "we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them." This implies that Kim would agree to........

© The Korea Times