President Donald Trump claims he probably has a "good relationship" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, although the only apparent interaction the two have ever had is an exchange of taunts and insults.
Trump and Kim have traded bellicose rhetoric and crude insults over the past year, as North Korea has accelerated weapons tests and appears on the cusp of having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the US mainland.
However, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un already said in his New Year message that, despite his desire to improve ties with South Korea, Pyongyang has no intention of suspending its nuclear programme and will continue to develop its weapons to prevent Washington from attacking its territory. The two nations have remained in a state of war and without diplomatic relations since the Korean War ended in 1953 without a peace treaty. North Korea has responded to the South's offers to talk, however, Pyongyang has not yet signaled any readiness to engage the U.S.in dialogue, given the Trump administration's insistence on complete denuclearization. Kim called the 71-year-old American president "the mentally deranged USA dotard".
The president has threatened the North with "fire and fury", warning that America is prepared to "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary. Such a strike could be triggered by evidence that North Korea was fueling an ICBM, the official said.
"If I were them, I would try", he said. "President Trump is aware of the consequences".
Such military action, though, would reportedly not lead to a major war with the East Asian state.
A Japanese ruling party lawmaker said he did not believe the Korean talks could narrow the gap between North Korea's demand for recognition as a nuclear-armed state and the US refusal to accept that.
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