Trump unconvinced on Korea dialogue
President Donald Trump remains unconvinced about the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year's address.
Trump's ambassador to the United Nations insists talks won't be meaningful unless the North gets rid of its nuclear weapons, and Trump later boasted that his "nuclear button" is bigger and more powerful than Kim's.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump said the US-led campaign of sanctions and other pressure were beginning to have a "big impact" on North Korea.What happens during a US govt shutdown
He referred to the recent, dramatic escape of at least two North Korean soldiers across the heavily militarised border into South Korea and alluded to Kim's comments on Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea next month.
"Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!" Trump said, using his derisive moniker for the young North Korean leader.
In response to Kim's overture, South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks on January 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.Merkel would prefer snap poll over minority government
North Korea did not immediately react to the South's proposal.
If there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015.
Relations have plunged as the North has accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile development that now poses a direct threat to America, South Korea's crucial ally.China sends official to North Korea
The US administration, however, voiced suspicions that Kim is seeking to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.
Pyongyang could view a closer relationship with Seoul has a way for reducing its growing international isolation and relief from sanctions that are starting to bite the North's meagre economy.
"We won't take any of the talks seriously if they don't do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea," US Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the United Nations.Trump avoids senator race amid sex claims
In his New Year's address, Kim repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States, adding he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk and warned that "the whole territory of the US is within the range of our nuclear strike".
Trump on Tuesday mocked the button assertion.
"Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" Trump wrote.Ex-Trump adviser reminded of gag order
North Korea has been punished with unprecedented sanctions at the UN over its weapons programs, and Haley warned of more measures if the North conducts another missile test.
South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in has supported Trump's pressure campaign against North Korea but is less confrontational than the US president and favours dialogue to ease the North's nuclear threats.
Moon has long said he sees the Pyeongchang Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties.Iran 'enemies' swaying protests: Khamenei