North Korea is willing to hold talks with the US, South Korea says.
The announcement came after Gen Kim Yong-chol met South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka also attended the ceremony, but US officials have ruled out meeting the North Korean delegation.
The US says North Koreans pulled out of a meeting with Vice-President Mike Pence during the opening ceremony. The Korean peninsula has been divided since the 1950-53 war and the two sides have never signed a peace treaty. The rapprochement between the two Koreas has been seen as a move by the North to drive a wedge between the South and the US.
South Korea’s President Moon has tried to bring Washington and Pyongyang together at these Olympics. He’s met two rounds of delegations from both countries and his message has been clear: You need to talk. Pyongyang has not yet commented. But it has often said it is willing to talk without any preconditions.
However, the US has insisted that concrete steps towards denuclearisation take place first. The revelation from the South Korean presidency came hours after a furious statement from the North that described fresh sanctions announced by Washington as “an act of war”.
Pyongyang’s foreign ministry praised the way the two Koreas had co-operated together during the Olympics, but said the US had “brought the threat of war to the Korean peninsula with large-scale new sanctions” just as the Games were coming to a close.
Could there be a breakthrough?
North Korea has sent an eight-person team across the border, including officials responsible for its nuclear programme and diplomats in charge of US issues.
Meanwhile, Allison Hooker – a Koreas specialist from the US National Security Council – is part of the US delegation. She met Gen Kim in 2014 in North Korea, as the US tried to free two American detainees.
The scene could be set for a more low-key meeting than the failed attempt with Mr Pence. He was set to meet Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean President Kim Jong-un, at the start of the Games, but it was cancelled inexplicably by the North Koreans, according to the US officials. North Korea made no comment.
Author: Staff Writer