North Korea names veteran negotiator for South Korea talks

Mitch Lerner

Mitch Lerner is director of the Institute for Korean Studies at The Ohio State University

With the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea just over a month away, political efforts are underway to try to ensure the Games will be free from political tensions involving North Korea.

Late last night, the South's president Moon Jae-In and his USA counterpart Donald Trump agreed to delay joint military drills, which always infuriate the North, until after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which begin on 9 February.

But Kim remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying the North would mass-produce nuclear missiles for operational deployment and warned he would launch a nuclear strike if his country was threatened.

(Stand-up) "Seoul's unification ministry stressed that the government's stance is to prepare for the talks in a way that North Korea's participation in the Games does not violate worldwide sanctions, including Washington's unilateral measures". If North Korea is involved in the Olympics, it will be unlikely to seek to disrupt the event in some way.

Also in recent days, the USA and South Korea agreed to delay their joint military exercises until after the Games, apparently to help ease nerves.

It comes a day after Pyongyang agreed to official talks with South Korea.

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The interview, which lasted roughly 45 minutes, comes only nine days after Trump last tossed out his moniker for Kim on Twitter . Moon and Trump agreed to continue a "maximum pressure campaign" against Pyongyang , the White House said in its statement.

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To reduce the risk of upsetting Pyongyang, South Korea and the United States agreed Thursday to put off joint military drills until after the Winter Paralympics in March.

North Korea has accepted a proposal from South Korea to hold official talks regarding the country's participation at this year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Trump and Kim have traded barbs recently about their nuclear arsenals.

Assessing next week's discussions, Trump said "if something can happen and something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity". They have to stop testing.

The spokesman said the two sides agreed to work on the details of the talks "through the exchange of documents", and added the agenda items of the talks will be "issues related to improving inter-Korean relationships. including the Pyeongchang (Winter) Olympic Games". The International Olympic Committee has said it is willing to cover North Korea's costs if Pyongyang takes part in the Games, but some have questioned whether that would violate United Nations sanctions imposed on the North for its missile and nuclear tests.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has poked fun at President Donald Trump's Twitter beef with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, using similar language to the president's tweeted threat in a conflict with one of its own rivals: McDonald's.

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