South Korea keen on talks

South Korea on Tuesday proposed holding high-level talks with North Korea on their border next week, a day after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, suggested inter-Korean dialogue to discuss easing military tensions and his country’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South.

By Choe Sang-Hun in Seoul
  • Published 3.01.18
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Seoul: South Korea on Tuesday proposed holding high-level talks with North Korea on their border next week, a day after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, suggested inter-Korean dialogue to discuss easing military tensions and his country’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South.

Cho Myoung-gyon, the South’s point man on the North, proposed that the two Korean governments hold their meeting next Tuesday in Panmunjom, a village straddling the inter-Korean border north of Seoul, the South Korean capital.

“We hope the two sides sit down for frank talks,” Cho, the unification minister, said in a news conference.

If the North responds positively, it will set in motion the first official dialogue between the two Koreas in two years. 

South Korean officials hope the talks will lead to a thaw on the divided peninsula after years of high tensions and threats of war over the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But analysts cautioned that a sudden move to improve ties between the two Koreas could strain relations between Seoul and Washington.

Panmunjom has long served as a contact point for the two Koreas, with both sides exchanging messages through a telephone hotline there. But the North has not used the hotline since Mr. Moon’s conservative predecessor, the impeached President Park Geun-hye, shut down a joint industrial complex in the North Korean town of Kaesong in early 2016.

New York Times News Service