10 January 2018Hot off the Press
Delegations from North and South Korea met for the first time in two years yesterday. While discussions between the nations were predictably cautious, they have agreed to hold future talks and the North-South military hotline will today be restored.
The talks, which took place at Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, resulted in both nations agreeing to resolve disputes through diplomatic dialogue, and to reopen talks between their militaries to avoid accidental conflict. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has stated that immediate reunification of the peninsula is not a priority for Seoul.
Although South Korea has pressed the importance of de-nuclearisation of the peninsula, North Korea’s chief negotiator, Ri Son Gwon, denied any intention that its neighbours would be targets. “All our weapons, including atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles, are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, nor China and Russia,” he said.
North Korea will also send a delegation of athletes, officials, performers, journalists and spectators to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea next month, and was receptive to having athletes of both countries march together in the opening ceremony. South Korea will temporarily lift sanction to facilitate North Korea’s participation.
The United States, which did not participate in the talks, was initially sceptical, but now supports the ongoing dialogue. US President Donald Trump has said that the US will get involved “at the appropriate time”, but has agreed with South Korea to postpone joint military exercises with the South until after the Winter Olympics.