North Korea has agreed to South Korea’s offer to hold talks next week, in what will be the first high-level contact between the two countries for more than two years.
The talks – the first since December 2015 – will take place in a village that straddles the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between the two countries and come amid international concern over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
The discussions will initially focus on possible North Korean possible participation in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang.
But officials will also talk about how to improve overall ties after a year in which North Korea has raised tensions in the region with a series of missile launches and its sixth – and most powerful – nuclear test.
Pyongyang notified Seoul that it has accepted the offer of talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday morning, according to the South Korean unification ministry.
“The two sides decided to discuss working-level issues by exchanging documents,” Baik Tae-hyun, a ministry spokesman, told a press briefing, according to Yonhap news agency.
The announcement came hours after the US agreed to postpone joint military exercises with the South until after the Winter Games, which open 50 miles south of the North Korean border on 9 February.
North Korea regards the joint military exercises as a rehearsal for invasion and has often cited them as an obstacle to any thawing of inter-Korean ties.
More to follow …
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