Talks between North and South Korea to proceed


Talks between North and South Korea to proceed

Peter Symonds

6 January 2018

The first official meeting between the two Koreas in more than two years is scheduled for Tuesday after North Korea formally accepted a South Korean offer of talks yesterday. Both sides will convene at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea made the offer this week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un used his New Year’s address to call for talks “as soon as possible” to discuss North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics, scheduled for South Korea in February. More broadly Kim declared: “North and South must work together to alleviate the tensions and work together as a people of the same heritage to find peace and stability.”

Early yesterday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed to delay the major Foal Eagle and Key Resolve joint military drills until after the Winter Olympics. Trump declared it would be a “good thing” if the meeting went ahead. These annual war games have always raised tensions with Pyongyang. They amount to a rehearsal for war with North Korea and last year involved more than 300,000 American and South Korean troops.

Within hours of the postponement of the war games, the North-South meeting was announced. Seoul’s unification ministry said it received a fax from Ri Son-gwon, head of the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea, saying Pyongyang would participate in the talks. North and South Korea also reopened their cross-border hotline on Wednesday for the first time in months.

The meeting will take place under conditions of extreme tension on the Korean Peninsula as a result of the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum…

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