Sunday, 21 January, 2018

North Korea agrees to talks after US, South Korea postpone military drills

South Korean soldiers patrols along a barbed-wire fence near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju South Korea The US and South Korea just took a huge step towards peace with North Korea
Melinda Barton | 13 January, 2018, 07:06

The talks will seek general improvements in relations, and specifically the possibility of reaching a deal on North Korea participating in the Winter Olympics. That likely made North Korea happy: It sees US-South Korea exercises as thinly veiled training for a future war with the North. Experts told Vox's Zack Beauchamp that President Donald Trump's decision to agree to the delay may indeed decrease tensions ahead of the Olympics. "It's very important that we don't ever let him get so arrogant that he doesn't realize the reality of what would happen if he started a nuclear war", she added.

There can be no promise to halt joint South Korea-U.S. military drills simply for a mere North Korean promise to freeze its nuclear program, because that would simply buy North Korea more time as it tries to ideal a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile.

Haley said there had been no shift in the administration's North Korea policy, after Trump said Saturday he'd "absolutely" be willing to talk to Kim. "If I weren't involved they wouldn't be talking at all right now".

"I will strive to make the Pyeongchang Olympics the "Peace Olympics" and furthermore to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue so that this can be a year when peace is cultivated on the Korean Peninsula", Moon said Friday. But tensions could return afterward because the North has no intentions of abandoning its weapons programs and the USA will not ease its pressure on the country, analysts say.

The remarks came shortly after North Korea agreed to hold an inter-Korean dialogue on Tuesday to discuss sending its delegation to the PyeongChang Games, which will be held from February 9-25.

Trump has jumped between taking a provocative approach toward North Korea - including trading personal insults with Kim and threatening to destroy his regime - and calling for a peaceful resolution.

They also agreed to hold high-level talks next week - the first since 2015 - which will focus on "matters of mutual interest", including the North's participation in the Winter Olympics.

Ostensibly the meeting proposed for Tuesday will be about cooperation on next month's Winter Olympics, but it also could signal a larger and more consequential dialogue between North and South.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters Friday that North Korea informed Seoul by fax that it has accepted the offer to initiate talks.

After Kim asserted that he had a nuclear button at the ready, Trump last week dismissed the taunt by saying in a tweet that the U.S. button at his disposal was bigger and more powerful.

Tillerson said how such talks might begin had yet to be determined, but North Korea would have to signal it understood that they would be aimed at "final, full denuclearisation".