South Korea Welcomes North Korean Proposal for Talks Ahead of Olympic Games
The South Korean government welcomed on Monday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s proposal to open a dialogue between the two nations in an effort to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and discuss the possibility of sending North Korean athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will be held in PyeongChang in February.
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“We welcome that Kim expressed willingness to send a delegation and proposed talks as he acknowledged the need for improvement in inter-Korean ties,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at a press briefing. “The successful launch of the games will contribute to stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in East Asia and the rest of the world.”
The spokesman emphasized that Moon is open to talks without preconditions but also pledged to work with other world leaders to address concerns about the North’s nuclear weapons program. The potential for diplomatic discussions between the North and South strongly contrasts with ongoing hostility between Kim and the Trump administration.
“The Blue House will cooperate closely with the international community to address the North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner,” Moon’s spokesman said, “while sitting down with the North to find the resolution to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and bring peace.”
The comments came in response to Kim’s annual New Year’s Day speech, which was broadcast on North Korea’s state-run television network earlier Monday.
“We sincerely hope that the South will successfully host the Olympics,” Kim said, while also expressing interest in sending athletes to the games next month. “We’re willing to take necessary steps including sending our delegation, and for this, the authorities from the North and South could urgently meet.”
Beyond the upcoming athletic competition, “it’s about time that the North and the South sit down and seriously discuss how to improve inter-Korean relations by ourselves and dramatically open up,” Kim said.
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