North and South Korea Hold Historic Talks
North and South Korea held historic talks at their border Tuesday to discuss how to cooperate in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South and improve their long-strained ties.
Senior SKorean officials left Seoul early in the morning for the meeting in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the 2 countries.
After the meeting NKorea announced it will send team of athletes and cheerleaders to Winter Olympics in SKorea.
The rival Koreas’ 1st formal talks in about 2 years came about as NKorean leader Kim Jong Un makes a push for improved ties with the South after a year of elevated tension over his country’s nuclear and missile tests.
Critics of the meeting said Kim may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington in a bid to weaken international pressure and sanctions over the tests.
In his New Year’s Day address, Kim said there is an urgent need to improve inter-Korean ties and that he is willing to send a delegation to the 9-25 February Winter Games in Pyeongchang, SKorea. He urged Seoul to halt its annual military drills with Washington, which he called a rehearsal for an invasion, and said he has a “nuclear button” to launch missiles at anywhere in the United States.
Moon, a liberal who favors dialogue as a way to defuse the NKorean nuclear standoff, welcomed Kim’s outreach and proposed Tuesday’s talks at the border village of Panmunjom.
Kim quickly accepted Moon’s offer.
SKorean officials said they would focus 1st on Olympic cooperation before dealing with tougher political and military issues. Moon’s government wants NKorea to take part in the Games as a way to improve relations.
US President Donald Trump said Saturday he hopes some progress results from Tuesday’s talks. But President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said Sunday the US administration is not changing its conditions for talks with NKorea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a “significant amount of time.”
President Trump and Kim traded strong warlike rhetoric and personal insults last year, as the North conducted it 6th and most powerful nuclear detonation and 3 tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.