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US, North Korea should lower threshold for talks, says South

02 March, 2018, 02:11 | Author: Samuel Sharp
  • Quotes from the Pyeongchang Winter Games on day 15

This photo shows White House adviser Ivanka Trump (front, L) and North Korean ruling party official Kim Yong-chol (back, R) at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, on February 25, 2018.

"Trump delivered a personal message to President Moon from President Trump about today's North Korea related sanctions announcement at a small meeting at the Blue House". But Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said that North Korea's primary strategy was not to avoid sanctions but to get the United States to accept it as a nuclear weapons state in return for a freeze on its nuclear program.

South Korea's president said Monday that the United States should lower the threshold for talks with North Korea and that the two countries should start a dialogue soon. Analysts say the North's overtures to the South are meant to loosen sanctions imposed over its banned nuclear and missile programmes, and to weaken the alliance between Seoul and Washington.

On Sunday, Kim Yong-chol, the high-ranking official leading the North Korean delegation, which is here until Tuesday, told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Pyongyang has "enough" willingness to begin dialogue with Washington, according to Seoul's presidential office.

The nuclear-armed North has gone on a charm offensive over the Games, sending athletes, cheerleaders and performers.

Moon, in a meeting with Kim Yong Chol on Sunday, also urged the North to open dialogue with the USA as soon as possible - to which Kim responded by saying the North was "very willing" to hold talks.

The US also announced last Friday what Trump hailed as "heaviest ever" sanctions on the isolated regime.

Kim Yong Chol, who Seoul believes masterminded two attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans, was in South Korea for the end of the Olympics.


It's possible the United States and North Korea delegations could come into close contact in the VIP Box in the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium during the final theatrics of a Winter Olympics that is winding down after 16 days.

Kim Yo Jong had no interaction with US Vice President Mike Pence at the opening ceremony just over two weeks ago, even though they were just a few seats apart.

"Both sides agreed to work together for permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, sustainable relations between North and South Korea and balanced cooperation with the global society", the South's presidential office said in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says "we will see".

Outside Olympic Stadium, just before the ceremony, more than 200 anti-Pyongyang protesters waved South Korean and USA flags, banged drums and held signs saying "Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell".

Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, a liberal who insists Seoul should be in control of global efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Hong Joon-pyo, the leader of the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party, said during the protest.

China also reacted angrily, saying on Saturday the unilateral targeting of Chinese firms and people risked harming cooperation on North Korea.

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