S. Korea proposes high-level dialogue with DPRK on January 9

Lucy Bush
January 2, 2018

The revelation comes days after South Korea said it was holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship and crew members over transferring petroleum products to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in October.

"We look forward to candidly discussing interests from both sides face-to-face with North Korea along with the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics", Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon told reporters.

Should the talks be held on January 9, it would be the first such dialogue since a vice-ministerial meeting in December 2015.

Park said the presidential office has always stated its readiness to talk with the North anytime, anywhere and in any form if the dialogue is about peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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All of inter-Korean communication channels have been severed since the previous South Korean government under impeached President Park Geun-hye decided unilaterally to close down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to the DPRK's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

Choi Moon-soon, governor of Gangwon Province where the Pyeongchang Olympics is set to be held, has proposed South Korea would send cruise ships to bring North Korean athletes and officials to Pyeongchang, according to South Korean media.

Choi met North Korean sports official Mun Woong in China on December 18 on the sidelines of a worldwide youth football tournament where North and South Korea soccer teams competed, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported. However, he also steadfastly declared North Korea a nuclear power. "Those who have been our friends for many years ask questions about our commitments to them.and our enemies, those that would do us ill, seem to be able to take advantage of the uncertainty".

Kim said in a New Year's Day speech on Monday he would consider sending a delegation to the Olympics.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday claimed he has a nuclear button installed in his office and is ready to strike at any time.

He called for improved ties and a relaxation of military tensions with South Korea, saying the Winter Olympics could showcase the status of the Korean nation. The U.S. "should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality".

Whether or not Kim Jong-un has a physical button to authorize launch or not, it remains the case that North Korea's nuclear weapons continue to see highly centralized and assertive command and control.

South Korean Unification Minster Cho Myoung-gyon says the South proposes the two Koreas meet January 9 at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

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