DPRK, ROK take steps to reduce tensions during rare talks

World Today

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, shakes hands with the head of DPRK delegation Ri Son Gwon after their meeting at the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Korea Pool via AP)

The nations on the Korean Peninsula took steps toward reducing their bitter animosity during rare talks on Tuesday, as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea agreed to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, hold talks on lowering tensions along their border and reopen a military hotline.

Chief Republic of Korea delegate Cho Myoung-gyon welcomed the “important first step toward the development of South-North relations” after the talks, according to media footage from the border village of Panmunjom, the venue.

Ri Son Gwon, DPRK’s lead delegate, read a joint statement to reporters in which the two Koreas agreed to “actively cooperate” in the Pyeongchang Olympics to “enhance the prestige of the Korean people.”

He said the DPRK will send a delegation of officials, athletes, cheerleaders and journalists and South Korea will provide necessary services for the delegation.

Ri added that reports by South Korean media that talks included discussions of denuclearisation by Pyongyang were “absurd,” and clarified that the North’s nuclear arsenal was not targeted at anyone but the United States.

The DPRK also agreed to hold military talks with South Korea aimed at reducing animosity along their tense border and to restore a military hotline communication channel, according to Cho and Ri.

The first of its kind in about two years, the meeting was arranged after DPRK leader Kim Jong Un made an abrupt push for improved ties with South Korea following a year of elevated tensions with the outside world over his expanding nuclear and missile programmes.

Story by the Associated Press