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  1. ITV Report

South Korea offers North talks after praising Kim Jong Un speech

South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed talks in a televised address a day after Kim Jong Un's speech. Credit: AP

South Korea has set a date for potential talks with North Korea after welcoming apparent concessions in Kim Jong Un's New Year speech.

The North Korean leader repeated nuclear threats against the United States in his 2018 address but called for improved ties and a relaxation of military tensions with Seoul.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in - who in contrast to his conservative predecessors hopes dialogue can ease the North's nuclear threats - wants to use his country's hosting of February's Winter Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties.

The potential thawing of relations comes with only weeks before South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics. Credit: AP

His administration has pledged to hold talks "anytime, anywhere" with Pyongyang officials and offered up January 9 and the shared border village of Panmunjom as the time and place, a day after Kim's unexpectedly warm speech.

Such a meeting would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015.

Kim said on Monday he is willing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics and said the Games have the potential to showcase the status of the Korean nation.

But he called on South Korea to stop annual military exercises with the United States, which he has described as an invasion rehearsal against the North.

South Korea's move for peace talks with the North are unlikely to be supported in Washington. Credit: AP

The prospect of more cordial inter-Korean relations is unlikely to be greeted as warmly in Washington.

US analysts believe Kim may look to divide Seoul and its US allies in order to ease sanctions against North Korea.

Kim again warned the US in his speech that his country's nuclear forces are no longer a threat but a reality.

He said he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk and said "the whole territory of the US is within the range of our nuclear strike".

South Korea are seeking to 'restore' inter-Korean relations in contrast to Donald Trump's aggressive stance towards Kim Jong Un. Credit: AP

North Korea was hit with toughened UN sanctions after carrying out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test last year as the war of words between Kim and US President Donald Trump escalated.

The North also test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of its push to create a nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.

A spokesperson for the South Korean presidency said: “We have always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea anytime and anywhere if that would help restore inter-Korean relations and lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula.”