WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered some hope on Wednesday that North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un, may yet change course despite the reclusive Communist state's recent rocket launch and the threat of a new nuclear test.
In an interview with CNN's "The Situation Room," Clinton said it was too early to tell what to make of the surprise remarks to soldiers on Sunday by the youngest son of the late Kim Jong-il, who saw North Korea fall into deep poverty and developed a nuclear weapons program during his 17-year rule.
Without elaborating, Clinton said Jong-un's speech was analyzed as "some of the old - same old stuff" and "some possible new approach".
"We really are waiting and watching to see whether he can be the kind of leader that the North Korean people need.
"If he just follows in the footsteps of his father, we don't expect much other than the kind of provocative behavior and the deep failure of the political and economic elite to take care of their own people," Clinton said.
"But he is someone who has lived outside of North Korea, apparently, from what we know. We believe that he may have some hope that the conditions in North Korea can change. But again we're going to watch and wait," she said.
Jong-un is in his late 20s.
North Korea said on Wednesday it was ready to retaliate in the face of international condemnation of last week's failed rocket launch, increasing the likelihood it will push ahead with a third nuclear test.
The United States and others said the launch was a test for a long range missile, while North Korea has insisted it was meant to put a satellite into orbit.
(Reporting By John Crawley and Ju-min Park; editing by Todd Eastham)