Kim Jong Un’s 2019 game plan for North Korea awaits

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Analysts believe that key clues will emerge during his annual New Year’s Day speech — essentially North Korea’s version of the State of the Union in the United States.

Experts will be watching for any mention of a second summit with US President Donald Trump or anything on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Kim could also reveal key decisions on economic policy and inter-Korean relations.

Few expect Kim to rock the boat dramatically in Tuesday’s speech. Many believe the young leader holds some of the best cards of all the geopolitical players with a stake in the future of the Korean Peninsula. Most do not expect Kim to risk his standing in a speech that’s largely intended for a domestic audience.

“He’s got the United States and South Korea where they want them right now,” said Evans Revere, a former US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and current senior director with the Albright Stonebridge Group.

North Korea’s diplomatic achievements in 2018 would have been unthinkable a year earlier. In the lead up to Kim’s 2018 New Year’s speech, Pyongyang had tested its most advanced long-range missile to date and its most powerful nuclear bomb, after months of similar weapons tests and saber-rattling between North Korea and the US.

Few would have predicted that the following year, Kim would meet Moon three times, leave his country for the first time since taking power in 2011 and become the first North Korean leader to sit face to face with a sitting US…



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