North Korea to reopen hotline to South to talk Olympics

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North Korea said Wednesday it will restore a cross-border hotline to the South to discuss its participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The announcement, first heard on a North Korean state radio address, came after a South Korean offer on Tuesday to hold high-level talks with the North in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on January 9 – more than a month ahead of the Olympics.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed the reports.

Following a series by nuclear and missile tests conducted by North Korea last year the rhetoric between the two Koreas, which have been separated since 1948, seem to be working towards having improved ties – though there’s no guarantee that tensions will ease.

Talks after a year of tensions

Although North Korea didn’t specify whether it would accept the concrete South Korean offer for holding talks the current development is widely seen as a positive sign suggesting that the two Koreas are inching toward a sense of rapprochement. South Korean media, citing a North Korean official, however reported that leader North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had welcomed Seoul’s support for his peace offer.

The South Korean Unification Ministry, which is in charge of monitoring North Korea’s state media, said that the North was planning to restore the communication channel between the two nations at the shared border village of Panmunjom.

The two countries have not used the communications channel in more than a year due to increasing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

There have been repeated attempts in the past by the rival countries to hold talks, which in the past have often end in a cul-de-sac, with both sides directing accusations at each other.

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

South Korea, which is hosting the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has offered to hold high-level talks after Kim extended the South a rare olive branch by offering to meet to discuss the Games.  China and the International Olympic Committee welcomed the possibility of talks.

US President Donald Trump said that he was also tentatively open to talks between the two countries.

“Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Read more: US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks

ss/rt (AP, dpa)