S. Korea's Moon wants more talks to resolve North nuke issue
Jan 10 2018 by Desiree Burns
Kim, 25, and Ryom, 18, are now North Korea's only athletes to qualify for this year's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. A sign for some in Pyongyang change is on the way and the Olympics is a good chance to show the world a positive image of North Korea.
North Korea offered to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the forthcoming Winter Olympics in the South on Tuesday as the rivals held their first official talks in more than two years after months of tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
Although the coming Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea was the initial reason for the South-North Korea talks, more serious issues were discussed.
According to NBC News correspondent in Seoul, Bill Neely, some people in Seoul and Washington believe Kim Jung Un's real motive for holding these talks is to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States to try to break their alliance.
"We will closely coordinate with the United States, China, Japan and other neighbors in this process", South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a statement.
The last-minute agreement was brokered Tuesday; it comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surprised the world on New Year's Day by saying he was open to South Korea's invitation to send athletes and a delegation to the Games.
"It is no exaggeration to say that North-South relations are more frozen than the weather", said Ri Son-gwon, the head...
The two Koreas last week reopened a communication channel at Panmunjeom, after Pyongyang cut off both lines in February 2016 in protest at Seoul's closure of a joint industrial zone.
The United States has almost 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.
During an earlier era of inter-Korean detente, athletes from the two Koreas paraded together at global sports events such as the Olympics and fielded a unified Korean team.
North Korea is not a winter sports power, and two of its figure skaters, Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, earlier became the only North Korean athletes to qualify for the games before the North missed a confirmation deadline.
Once inside, Ri was joined by his South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.
Kim's speech touched off events that led to Tuesday's high-level meeting, which is taking place at the Peace House in the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom.
"The target of a best ever Olympic Winter Games is indicative of just how far the athletes and their National Governing Bodies have progressed over the past four years", he told the official website of the British Olympic Committee.
North Korea was expected to demand rewards in return for South Korea's proposal of family reunions, such as a halt to South Korean propaganda broadcasts and a scaling back or halting of military drills with the USA, observers say.
Tuesday's meeting followed a year of ramped-up North Korean missile test launches, some of them over Japanese territory, and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which prompted a US-led campaign to toughen United Nations sanctions. South Korea may also allow North Korean citizens to visit the games.
"South Korea has been working at this for a long time", he said. Many analysts argue that North Korea ultimately used its participation in these events to extract concessions, including payments, from South Korea - and that its participation in the PyeongChang Olympics should be viewed with skepticism.
The advent of the talks has kindled hopes in the South Korean government that an agreement on sports can be a gateway into broader discussions about thorny issues such as the North's nuclear program.
During the lead-up to the Olympics, Moon successfully lobbied Washington to postpone the USA and South Korea's annual joint military drills that routinely outrage North Korea.
IOC president Thomas Bach says in a statement that North Korea's decision to send a delegation to the games is "a great step forward in the Olympic spirit". Moon welcomed Kim's outreach and proposed the talks at Panmunjom, a proposal North Korea quickly accepted.