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North Korea says willing to talk to US: Seoul

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un have exchanged angry insults over the past year
It also vowed retaliation if US 'has the nerves' to confront the North in a 'rough' manner

North Korea is "very willing" to hold talks with the United States, its delegation to the Winter Olympics closing ceremony said Sunday, according to Seoul's presidential Blue House.

In a meeting with the South's President Moon Jae-in, the North's delegation "agreed that inter-Korea talks and North-US relations should improve together", the Blue House said in a statement.

Pyongyang has frequently said it is willing to talk without preconditions, but Washington says it must first take concrete steps towards denuclearisation.

Meanwhile, a blacklisted North Korean general and the daughter of US President Donald Trump attended the Winter Olympics closing ceremony together Sunday, in the final piece of the Games-led diplomacy that has dominated headlines from Pyeongchang. 

Brief footage of the VIP enclosure at the arena showed South Korean President Moon Jae-in shaking hands first with Trump's daughter Ivanka, and soon afterwards with North Korean General Kim Yong Chol -- who reportedly expressed willingness to talk to Washington.

There was no indication of any interaction between Ivanka, who was placed next to Moon's wife, and Kim, who was in the row behind her -- just two seats away from US General Vincent Brooks, who commands Washington's forces in the South.

- Pyongyang slams sanctions as 'act of war' -

North Korea on Sunday slammed the latest US measures against it as an "act of war", after US President Donald Trump announced the "heaviest sanctions ever" on the nuclear-armed regime.

The measures, which Washington says are aimed at forcing Pyongyang to roll back its banned nuclear and weapons programs, target more than 50 North Korea-linked shipping companies, vessels and trade businesses.

"Like we have said repeatedly, we consider any restrictions on us as an act of war," the North's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

It also vowed a retaliation if the US "really has the nerves" to confront the North in a "rough" manner.

Britta Pedersen (dpa/AFP/File)

Trump warned on Friday that, if the latest sanctions don't work, the US would "go to phase two" that "may be a very rough thing", without elaborating.

In response, the North also vowed to "subdue the US in our own way" if provoked, saying "Trump is trying to change us with such sanctions and hostile remarks, which shows his ignorance about us".

"We already have our own nuclear weapon -- a treasured sword of justice to protect us from such threats from the US," the foreign ministry said.

The comment came hours before the North's senior delegation led by Kim Yong Chol, a blacklisted military general, is set to attend the closing ceremony of the South's Winter Olympics, which will also be attended by Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump.


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