Kim says open to ‘highest-level’ talks with South Korea

The offer came in Kim's traditional New Year message broadcast live on state television

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said Thursday he was open to the "highest-level" talks with South Korea as he called for an improvement in strained cross-border relations.

The offer came in Kim's traditional New Year message broadcast live on state television, according to Yonhap news agency.

"We should write a new history in the North-South ties. There is no reason not to hold the highest-level talks," he said, calling for a "big change" in strained relations between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war.

The message came days after Ryoo Kihl-Jae, the South's unification minister in charge of inter-Korean affairs, offered to hold high-level talks with North Korea in January.

The last round of formal top-level talks was held in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare union of relatives separated by the conflict.

The two Koreas had earlier agreed to restart dialogue when a top-ranking North Korean delegation made a surprise visit to the Asian Games held in the South in October.

The unusual trip raised hopes of a thaw, but was followed by a series of minor military clashes along the border that renewed tensions and talks never materialized.

Ties were strained further when the North angrily slammed the South for allowing its activists to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border via hot air balloons.

Seoul rejected Pyongyang's demand to ban such exercises, saying there were no legal grounds to stop free activities by citizens.

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