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North Korea-South Korea Meeting Set for Jan. 9

Jan. 5, 2018 (EIRNS)—Hours after the presidents of the U.S. and South Korea agreed to a postponement of the next round of annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold their first high level talks in two years on Jan. 9, though there are apparently still details to be worked out. According to the Korea Herald, the Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed the South at 10:16 a.m. through a faxed massage that it has accepted Seoul’s offer to hold talks next Tuesday on the South Korean side in the truce village of Panmunjom.

"The main agenda items will be issues related to improving inter-Korean ties including [the North’s participation in] the PyeongChang Olympics,"

Baik Tae-hyun, spokesperson for the Unification Ministry, told a press briefing. "We agreed to discuss details regarding the talks through the exchange of documents." The priority now is North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics. "Once North Korea’s participation in the Olympics is finalized, I believe there will be further discussions on improving inter-Korean ties," a high-ranking official from Cheong Wa Dae (the South Korean Presidential administration) told reporters on condition of anonymity. The two Koreas are expected to hammer out details of North Korean delegation’s participation over the weekend, such as travel routes, costs, and whether the two Koreas would march together under a unified Korean flag at the opening and closing ceremonies in the Winter Games. The Games are scheduled to run from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25.

Though denuclearization is not expected to be on the agenda for the North-South talks, it’s obviously still a broader item of discussion. China’s nuclear envoy, Kong Xuanyou , met with Lee Do-hoon, the special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, today, in Seoul.

"Currently, some positive things are unfolding with regard to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, though there are still complicated challenges,"

Kong said via an interpreter, reported Yonhap. Lee also emphasized that the North Korean nuclear issue is facing a "critical turning point," citing Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day message. "Against this backdrop, it is more important than ever to maintain cooperation between South Korea and China," he said. "I hope that the cooperation between the governments of the two countries remain close going forward." Lee will also be meeting with his Japanese counterpart on Monday, to discuss North Korea nuclear issue.