Koreas to meet for talks, but North won’t budge on nukes

2018-01-07 06:12
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said on January 6, 2016, it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said on January 6, 2016, it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

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North Korea agreed to official talks with the South this week, the first in more than two years.

The move came hours after the US and South Korea delayed a military exercise, amid a standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The discussions will be held on Tuesday.

The last time the two Koreas held official talks was in December 2015.

The meeting will take place at the border truce village of Panmunjom, where officials from both sides are expected to discuss the Winter Olympics, to be held in the South next month, and other inter-Korean relations, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun told reporters.

North Korea asked for further negotiations about the meeting to be carried out via documented exchanges, Baik said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un opened the way for talks with South Korea in a New Year’s Day speech in which he called for reduced tensions and flagged the North’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics.

But Kim remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying the North would mass produce nuclear missiles for operational deployment. He again warned he would launch a nuclear strike if his country was threatened.

US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in announced that annual large-scale military drills would take place after the Olympics.

The North sees these drills as preparations for invasion and just cause for its weapons programmes, that it conducts in  defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korea and the US are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. – Reuters

Read more on:    kim jong-un  |  donald trump  |  north korea

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