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North Korea's Kim vows to improve ties with outside world at party meeting

North Korea's Kim vows to improve ties with outside world at party meeting

A man watches a television screen showing news footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending the 8th congress of the ruling Workers' Party held in Pyongyang, at a railway station in Seoul on January 6, 2021 AFP/Jung Yeon-je

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un explored ways to renew inter-Korean ties and vowed to expand foreign relations, state media said on Friday (Jan 8), as he hosted a rare party congress less than two weeks before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party came amid a prolonged gridlock in negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes in return for US sanction relief.

The gathering is aimed at reviewing the party's work since its last meeting in 2016 and outlining a new blueprint.

READ: Mired in crises, North Korea's Kim Jong Un to open big party meeting

On its third day on Thursday, Kim raised the issue of reshaping South Korean relations "as required by the prevailing situation and the changed times" and discussed foreign policy, the official KCNA news agency reported, without elaborating.

He "declared the general orientation and the policy stand of our party for comprehensively expanding and developing the external relations", KCNA said.

Biden will come into office facing the thorny task of engineering a breakthrough in the stalemate, after historic summits between Kim and outgoing US President Donald Trump failed to reach agreement.

READ: From 'love' to 'thug' - Biden win to change US-North Korea dynamic

Inter-Korean relations made some headway around the summits but have soured as the nuclear talks made little headway.

Kim also discussed ways to open "a fresh golden age" in its campaign for socialist culture, as Pyongyang has stepped up its crackdown on outside information, enacting a new law last month banning foreign materials that could instigate "reactionary thought".

He called for "establishing our own wholesome and revolutionary lifestyle in all spheres of social life and thoroughly eliminating non-socialist elements", KCNA said.

Source: Reuters/dv

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