Published: Tue, January 02, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Korea offers to talk with North on Olympics co-operation

Korea offers to talk with North on Olympics co-operation

Two North Korean athletes - pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik - qualified for the Games but the North Korean Olympic Committee missed an October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate.

As worldwide sanctions against the regime's continuous nuclear and missile provocations take a toll on the North Korean economy, Pyongyang may request the easing of global sanctions, economic cooperation and humanitarian assistance, the institute said in its report analyzing Kim's New Year speech.

"This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment", Kim said.

North Korea may demand a price for its participation in the Winter Olympics next month, a South Korean think tank said Monday.

"I hope the Unification Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Sports will swiftly come up with follow-up measures to quickly restore South-North Korean dialogue and realize the North Korean delegation's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics", the president said in a Cabinet meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae. The North sees the regular war drills between the South and the United States as preparations for war.

South Korean president Moon Jae-In last month proposed delaying Seoul's annual joint military exercises with the United States until after the Games.

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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The South Korean government must make the most of this opportunity to bring about the genuine improvement of inter-Korean relations and the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"The improvement of relations between North and South Korea can not go separately with resolving North Korea's nuclear program, so the foreign ministry should coordinate closely with allies and the global community regarding this", Moon said in opening remarks at a cabinet meeting.

Kim's hostile comments were offset by a diplomatic message.

Asked about Kim's nuclear claims, President Trump on Sunday night said, "We'll see", The Washington Post reported.

"Implicit in Kim Jong Un's speech is a willingness to engage with others, including the United States, on the basis of their acceptance of the "reality" of North Korea's permanent nuclear status".

Rather than encouraging USA measures that "threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula", Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and "stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces", Kim said.

Kim's customary New Year's speech is closely watched for indications of the policy direction the unpredictable and reclusive leader is likely to pursue in the coming year. But even if that is Pyongyang's intention, it's critical for South Korea to welcome this proposal and treat it as an opportunity not only for improving inter-Korean relations but also for finding a way to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

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