Moscow, Jan 1 (IANS/RIA Novosti) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Tuesday called for reconciliation with South Korea and said his country would strive to raise living standards, in the first New Year TV address in 19 years by a North Korean head of state.
“All Korean compatriots in the North, South and abroad should launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration,” Kim said in his address, the Korean Central News Agency reported.
The declarations he referred to are agreements signed between the two Koreas under the South’s previous governments, designed to foster cooperation between them.
The North Korean leader called on Pyongyang and Seoul to strive for “the great national cause of reunifying the country”.
He said: “By holding fast to the ideals of independence, peace and friendship, we will, in the future too, strive to develop friendship and cooperation with the countries that are friendly to our nation”.
Kim also called on North Koreans to “build an economic giant” and said raising living standards would be a priority this year.
“All economic undertakings for this year should be geared to effecting a radical increase in production, and stabilizing and improving the people’s living standards,” he said.
He also stressed that North Korea was dedicated to preserving strong armed forces, and praised the launch by Pyongyang in December of a long-range rocket, a move which prompted international condemnation.
Kim’s New Year TV address is the first by a North Korean leader since 1994, when his grandfather Kim Il-sung sent a message to his nation.
Kim Jong-il, the previous leader, never made a televised New Year address, although his statements were usually published in state newspapers.
Kim Jong-un assumed the role of leader after his father Kim Jong-il died in December 2011.