South Korea offers to talk with North on Olympics cooperation

Visitors pose in front of an ice sculpture of an intercontinental ballistic missile at the Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang North Korea in

This week's exchanges follow a year dominated by fiery threats form Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump who vowed to destroy North Korea if threatened, even as U.S. diplomats pushed for a diplomatic solution.

"To avoid a nuclear conflict and the full-scale deployment of an operational North Korean strategic deterrent force, USA leaders, in concert with South Korea, should redouble efforts to engage North Korea in direct talks and cease any further explicit or implicit threats of military action against the North", he said in an email.

Professor Kim Hyun-Wook at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy said the North was trying to use the Olympics to improve ties with the South despite tensions with the U.S. showing no signs of abating.

President Moon Jae-in called for swift measures to realize North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games here on Tuesday, one day after the reclusive North Korean leader hinted at a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue to the end.

"The (organising committee) will discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee", he said in a statement.

This comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un showed willingness to send over a team of athletes to participate in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. "The United States can never start a war against me and our country". It's possible to conclude that, while Kim remains provocative on nuclear matters, his speech was forward-looking overall and contained concrete proposals.

South Korean Unification Minster Cho Myoung-gyon says the South proposes the two Koreas meet January 9 at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

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John Delury, a professor of global relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Kim's message to Seoul was "more promising" than he had anticipated, addressing in a specific and actionable way South Korea's desire to make the Games a success.

But North Korea has so far snubbed his overtures, including an offer to hold inter-Korean military talks about ceasing hostile activities along the border, as it tested missiles at an unprecedented pace.

Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser, said Seoul should have taken more time before answering.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and launched its most high-tech intercontinental ballistic missile in November, ignoring worldwide condemnation and steadily tightening sanctions.

Revere said Kim Jong Un's speech contained the strongest defense of North Korea's status as a permanently nuclear-armed country he had seen.

South Korea has been pushing for the North's participation in the global sporting event as a means to reduce regional tensions during the games as well as a momentum to improve inter-Korean relations.

"I'm still very skeptical of the "complete" thing they've been talking about, if only because we've seen so much activity in regards to the submarine launched ballistic missile programme", he said.


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