North Korea And South Korea Officially Agree To Hold High-Level Talks

Olympic cooldown can help bring North Korea to negotiating table

Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said North Korea had accepted Seoul's offer to meet at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss how to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics and how to improve overall ties.

Kim had signaled in his New Year's address that he is considering sending athletes to his southern neighbor's festivities in Pyeongchang, setting off a move towards diplomacy after months of missiles launches and angry messages.

The White House is defending President Donald Trump's Twitter riposte to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's boast about his "nuclear button".

Seoul also announced that it would begin direct talks with Pyongyang.

South Korean people walk next to advertisement of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at a station in Seoul on Friday.

The drills, relatively common between the two countries' armed forces, have repeatedly angered North Korea, which seems them as an act of aggression.

Observers have been unsure whether the renewed talks, the first since late 2015, are reason for real hope or will collapse into further animosity after the Games.

The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North's push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, but the USA and its allies are making it clear that while the military drills are on hold, pressure on North Korea won't let up.

It was a response to Kim's New Year's speech in which the young leader warned the U.S. that he has a nuclear button on his desk at all times.

As we previously reported, the White House says the USA and South Korea want to "de-conflict the Olympics" so the two countries can focus on security for the games.

Trump, who hurled fresh insults at the North Korean leader this week, took credit for any dialogue that takes place. North Korea then called again on Wednesday a few hours later proposing to "call it a day", according to a South Korean ministry official, quoted in the country's news agency Yonhap.

Beyond that it's considering forming a single Korea Olympics team, entering the opening and closing ceremonies together or forming a single Korea cheering squad, the report said, citing a roadmap for negotiations from South Korea's presidential office.

Earlier this week, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Washington had heard reports that Pyongyang might be preparing to fire another missile.

"They can talk with whoever they want", she said about North Korea, but made the USA requirements clear.

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