No reason not to hold high-level north-south talks: DPRK

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Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un on Thursday called on South Korea to halt all provocative war maneuvers and emphasized that there is no reason not to hold highest-level north-south talks in a televised New Year's speech.

The year of 2015 will mark a turning point for blazing a path toward independent reunification of the Korean nation, he noted.

Despite huge changes that have taken place around the world over the past seven decades, the Korean nation is still suffering the pains of separation and such a tragedy cannot be tolerated any more, Kim said.

He said the DPRK has made every sincere effort to try to ameliorate inter-Korean relations in 2014, but only to face worsened ties between north and south because of interference from internal and external forces against national reunification.

Kim underscored the need to remove the threat of war, ease tension and create a peaceful environment on the Korean Peninsula.

As annual large-scale war exercises in South Korea exacerbate tensions and bring danger of a nuclear war, Seoul should stop all war provocations, in particular reckless military exercises jointly conducted with foreign forces, he said.

He said there is no reason not to hold summit talks between north and south when such atmosphere and climate are matured.

The DPRK will make an all-out effort to promote inter-Korean dialogue and negotiations in the future, Kim emphasized.

If South Korea truly seeks to improve north-south ties through dialogue, inter-Korean high-level contact that was once suspended could be resumed and inter-department talks could also be launched, he said.

In the 30-minute address broadcast on Korean Central Television, Kim reviewed the achievements made over the past year in a broad range of areas including the army's combat capability and development of a socialist and civilized power.

He then set forth new tasks for 2015, which he said is a highly relevant year as it marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean nation and also 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

Kim said the DPRK will continue to implement the "Byungjin Line" (simultaneous development of economy and national defense) and make positive effort to develop most sophisticated military weapons.

Meanwhile, he proposed to address the problem of feeding the population by developing agriculture, husbandry and fishing industries and vowed to elevate people's living standards to a higher level.

As regards foreign policy, he criticized the United States for kicking off a human rights "racket" against Pyongyang and pledged to protect the nation's dignity from attempts of anti-DPRK forces to topple its socialist system.

This is the third consecutive year that Kim has delivered a verbal New Year's address, which gives important hint to the country's domestic and foreign policies for the next year.

On the New Year's Eve on Wednesday, tens of thousands of Pyongyang residents watched a 15-minute fireworks display on the banks of Taedong River to celebrate the New Year.

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