Seoul offers high-level delegation for N. Korea talks

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

The spokesman said the two sides agreed to work on the details of the talks "through the exchange of documents", and added the agenda items of the talks will be "issues related to improving inter-Korean relationships. including the Pyeongchang (Winter) Olympic Games".

The offer came a day after the two Koreas agreed to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years to discuss the North's participation in next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

While South Korea says it's cooperating with the United States on current developments, White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Kim's olive branch to the South is to create a schism between South Korea and the United States, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

His statement was followed by the move for North-South talks, and then the suspension of the U.S.

South-North dialogue gained momentum when President Moon Jae-in and his USA counterpart Donald Trump agreed to delay joint military exercises until after the Olympics ends.

Trump's openness to talks recalled his more accommodating approach during the 2016 campaign, when he said he could negotiate with Kim over a hamburger. More recently, he had dismissed diplomatic efforts, even publicly chiding US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in October for "wasting his time" by pursing them.

The latest round of sanctions passed in December bans the supply of almost 75 per cent of refined oil products to North Korea, puts a cap on crude deliveries and orders all North Korean nationals working overseas to be sent back by the end of 2019.

The Central Intelligence Agency head also rejected a New York Times article on Sunday that reported USA intelligence agencies had been unable to foresee the North's rapid nuclear strides over the past several months.

Prof Lee said: "The US remains very firm and vigilant when it comes to the nuclear threat".

"It indicates Kim Jong Un plans an interregnum in testing of missiles and warheads", Hayes explained, adding that Kim understands any military provocations at this time would interrupt a potential breakthrough moment for North and South ties.

Chang Ung, Pyongyang's representative to the International Olympic Committee, reportedly made the comment at Beijing International Airport on Saturday.

Still, both the US and South Korea want no disruptions during the Olympics in Pyeongchang, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas.

Seoul and organisers are keen for the North to take part in the Games to help ease worsening tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-another key player in the US-led pressure campaign against Kim-also expressed caution about the detente in an interview broadcast Sunday by Japan's NHK network.

"North Korea has shown willingness to cooperate on the Pyeongchang Olympics". If North Korea responds by suspending military tests, then the "dual suspension" will be in effect, which Russian Federation and China-and Lyndon and Helga LaRouche-say is required to move to negotiations for a durable settlement.