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N.K. vows dual pursuit of nukes, economy ahead of Trump's inauguration

2017/01/17 16:30

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea vowed Tuesday to stick to its dual pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic growth ahead of an inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump slated for later this week.

North Korea made it clear that it will continue to develop nuclear weapons in tandem with boosting the country's moribund economy, commonly known as the "byeongjin" policy, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"By firmly sticking to the policy, we will soar as a great political, military and economic power," the KCNA said.

The dual-track line is a signature policy unveiled by the North's leader Kim Jong-un which Seoul and Washington warn is a dead end for the country.

The North's message comes as a new U.S. administration to be led by Trump will take office on Friday.

North Korea's leader said in his New Year's message that his country has entered the final stage of its preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The speech hints at North Korea's development of a missile capable of flying as far as the U.S. mainland.

Trump has yet to unveil the specifics of his North Korea policy, but many experts expect that the new administration will likely continue to keep pressure and sanctions on Pyongyang.

Trump's pick for defense secretary James Mattis told at his confirmation hearing on Jan. 12 that as the North's nuclear and missile development is "a serious threat," the U.S. should "do something about it."

   North Korea has long claimed that it is developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent against what it calls Washington's hostile policy towards Pyongyang.

"North Korea is sending messages (to the U.S. in various ways) in a bid to put pressure on the U.S. to shift its policy toward North Korea," said an official at Seoul's unification ministry.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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