Pyongyang accepts Seoul’s offer for talks next week

World Today

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korea side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. But he also struck a conciliatory tone in his New Year’s address, wishing success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South in February and suggesting the North may send a delegation to participate. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has accepted the offer for talks. Seoul said Pyongyang agreed to its offer to meet face-to-face next week on Jan. 9. This will be the first high-level contact between the two Koreas in more than two years.

CGTN’s Nathan King has more.

After months of tensions, diplomacy is now moving fast on the Korean Peninsula. A day after Washington agreed to suspend military exercises for the duration of the Winter Olympics, Pyongyang agreed to talks with Seoul next week.

It’s a development welcomed by China.

“China welcomes and supports the recent positive moves by the DPRK and ROK to mend bilateral relationships,” said Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We also hope the international community can support these moves, and work together to find an efficient path to ease the tension, enhance mutual trust and resume dialogue.”

DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un said he “was open to dialogue” in his New Year’s day address. Republic of Korea’s President Moon Jae-in quickly seized on this.

The hotline between the two countries has been reactivated. Now, talks are confirmed for Tuesday at the Village of Panmunjom—the so-called “Truce Village” at the demilitarized zone.

This first high-level dialogue between the two Korean states in over two years will ostensibly focus on whether the DPRK will send athletes to next month’s winter Olympic Games being hosted by the ROK.

But also on the agenda: how to improve bilateral relations between the two Koreas. The suspension of military exercises by the U.S. is an apparent turnaround in U.S. policy. Up until now, the U.S. has declined any halt in joint military exercises as part of the White House policy of “maximum pressure” on the DPRK. The U.S. is now agreeing to one, saying the impending talks show the U.S. policy of sanctions and pressure is working.

The White House says the delay in the joint military drills is a pause is meant to focus energy and manpower on Olympic security.

Rodger Baker discusses Korean Peninsula dialogue

The DPRK and ROK have agreed to their first high-level, face-to-face talks in more than two years. The meeting follows a conciliatory New Year’s message from Pyongyang, and an invitation to an inter-Korean dialogue from Seoul. Rodger Baker, vice president of Asia-Pacific Analysis at Stratfor, joins CGTN’s Asieh Namdar to discuss.