January 3, 2018
Shortly after President Trump claimed that the “nuclear button” on his desk is much bigger and more powerful than the button on the desk of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the North demonstrated an eagerness to directly thaw relations with its Southern neighbor, when Pyongyang was first to use a border hotline with the South which resumed operation after an exchange of messages between Pyongyang and Seoul. Officials reportedly spoke for 20 minutes to make sure that the line works.
South and North Korea made their first contact at the border village of Panmunjom via a communication channel which Pyongyang ordered brought back online earlier on Wednesday, Yonhap reported. South Korea’s unification ministry said that “A North Korean official first contacted the South side via the channel.” The conversation was meant to pave the way for official talks between the two sides about sending a delegation from the North to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South, according to the Washington Post.
According to the statement issued by an unnamed Northern official, future discussions will focus on sending North Korean athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics which will kick off in South Korea next month. The North will open dialogue at 7:00am GMT (3:00 pm Pyongyang time) at the shared border village of Panmunjom, the statement said according to Yonhap.
The decision to reopen talks effectively cuts the US out of the negotiations after Trump has belittled the notion of seeking a diplomatic solution to the current crisis. Late last year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (whose days in the Trump administration are rumored to be numbered) received an embarrassing public rebuke from his boss after reportedly telling a group of Chinese officials that the State Department had recently initiated backdoor negotiations with the rogue state. The hotline hasn’t…