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Korea seeks to discuss divided families, easing tensions at inter-Korean talks

09 January 2018
Korea seeks to discuss divided families, easing tensions at inter-Korean talks

The tentative rapprochement comes after the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, warned in his New Year speech that he had a nuclear button on his desk, but also said Pyongyang could send a team to the Olympics.

Trump calls that "a big start".

On Saturday, Chang told reporters in Beijing that North Korea is "likely to participate" in the games, adding fuel to speculations that North Korea is seeking wild-card opportunities to participate in the PyeongChang games, a possibility which has been floating around for some time.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will deliver a statement at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the ministry said Monday.

Chang Ung, Pyongyang's sole International Olympic Committee member, said in a meeting with reporters in an airport in Beijing that his country is "likely to participate" in the Winter Games slated for February 9-25, according to foreign news reports.

"The priority will be discussions over North Korea's possible participation in the PyeongChang Olympics and the Paralympics", he said.

They also discussed ways to bring North Korea to the dialogue table for meaningful talks.

South Korea will announce Tuesday its position on a deal with Japan over "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, the Foreign Ministry said, an agreement meant to "finally and irreversibly" settle the issue when adopted two years ago. But North Korea could demand some rewards in exchange for those steps, such as the revival of stalled cooperation projects that are lucrative for the North or the suspensions of annual U.S.

Choreographed cheer in Pyongyang in August 2005
Choreographed cheer in Pyongyang in August 2005

South Korea's delegation will be headed by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

What might come of talks between the two nations?

"The IOC will at very short notice continue its talks with all the parties concerned so that we can take the necessary decisions about participation and the format of any participation in due time", the IOC spokesman said.

South Korea wants to discuss the resumption of family reunions but Pyongyang snubbed previous offers, saying it will not consider further reunions unless several of its citizens are returned by the South.

Ri, who has a military background, is known as one of the closest aides to Kim Yong-chol, the head of the ruling party's United Front Department and former chief of North Korea's reconnaissance bureau.

Analysts say the Moon administration is trying to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula through the talks.

In that same speech, Kim added that North Korea would continue "mass producing" nuclear weapons, which prompted a response from Trump in which he mocked Kim by stating that the USA nuclear button was "much bigger & more powerful", and that his button "works".