from Sputnik News:
In the coming year North Korea may be looking for “external outlets” while maintaining its status as a de-facto nuclear armed state, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said on Tuesday.
With North Korea expected to start to feel the pinch of international sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Pyongyang is attempting to work out its relationship with the US and mend fences with Seoul, the ministry said as quoted by Yonhap.
“North Korea may continue to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities while searching for an outlet externally. In searching for the recognition of its status as a de-facto nuclear-possessing state, (the North) would explore the possibility of negotiations with the US,” the ministry said in its predictions for North Korea in 2018.
North Korea is ready to talk directly to Washington about “guarantees for its security” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Vienna earlier this month.
According to the Unification Ministry’s report, Pyongyang is also likely to try to engage with South Korea in a bid to restore inter-Korean relations next year.
Meanwhile, the international sanctionson North Korea, tightened after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September, are starting to hit home with foreign countries reducing imports of North Korean workers and exports to China, Pyongyang’s main trading partner, having dropped almost 32 percent since January.
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