S. Korea offers high-level talks with N. Korea on Jan. 9

New Year 2018 bring the North Korea on diplomatic mood to have talks for participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics sports. Treading path of cooperation shall mitigate further differences.

South Korea on Tuesday proposed high-level talks with North Korea next week over its participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, in response to leader Kim Jong-un’s reconciliatory New Year message the previous day.

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Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed that the two Koreas meet next Tuesday at the truce village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone.

“We hope that South and North Korea will sit down to discuss the North’s participation in the games and ways to improve inter-Korean ties in a frank manner,” Cho said at a press conference.

“The government has a willingness to have dialogue with the North regardless of timing, place and format,” the minister said.

In a New Year’s speech on Monday, Kim said that Pyongyang is open to dialogue with Seoul, hinting at its willingness to take part in the Winter Games to be held in South Korea on Feb. 9-25.

Kim’s surprise offer came as the South is pinning hopes on the North’s participation in the games because it believes that the move could help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s presidential office welcomed Kim’s olive branch.

If realized, it would mark the first high-level inter-Korean talks since December 2015.

“We think that the suspended inter-Korean communication channels should be immediately restored. We propose that the two Koreas discuss details of talks including agenda items and the composition of delegations through the channel at the truce village,” Cho said.

Key communication channels between the two Koreas are not operating as the North cut off them in February 2016 in protest against Seoul’s shutdown of an inter-Korean industrial complex.

South Korea’s presidential office welcomed Monday’s proposal by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to send a delegation to the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics slated for next month.

“We welcome that Kim expressed willingness to send a delegation and proposed talks as he acknowledged the need for improvement in inter-Korean ties,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun told a press briefing. “The successful launch of the games will contribute to stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in East Asia and the rest of the world.”

In a televised message earlier, Kim said he could send a delegation to the games and is open to talks with Seoul. But he also made it clear that his country would not give up its nuclear and missile programs, and he claimed that a “nuclear button” is always on his desk.

Cheong Wa Dae stressed that it has always intended to hold talks with the North regardless of “time, place or manner” so long as such a meeting can help restore frayed relations and improve overall stability in the region.

“We hope to sit together (with the North) as concerned parties to find a solution to enhance stability on the peninsula while engaging with the international community in resolving the nuclear issue,” the office said.

Inputs

yonhapnews.co.kr

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