Both Koreas agree to hold talks on Tues­day

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - World -

SEOUL, South Korea — The ri­val Koreas agreed Fri­day to re­vive their first for­mal di­a­logue in more than two years next week to find ways to co­op­er­ate on the up­com­ing Win­ter Olympics in the South, a sign of eas­ing an­i­mosi­ties that fol­lowed a pe­riod of ris­ing nu­clear ten­sion that saw fears of war on the Korean Penin­sula.

The an­nounce­ment by Seoul’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry came hours af­ter the United States said it has agreed to de­lay an­nual joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea un­til af­ter the Win­ter Olympics.

The ex­er­cises have been a ma­jor source of ten­sion be­cause North Korea con­sid­ers them an in­va­sion re­hearsal, although South Korea and the United States have re­peat­edly said the drills are de­fen­sive in na­ture.

On Fri­day morn­ing, North Korea sent a mes­sage say­ing it would ac­cept South Korea’s of­fer to meet at the border vil­lage of Pan­munjom next Tues­day to dis­cuss Olympic co­op­er­a­tion and how to im­prove over­all ties, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry.

Spokesman Baik Tae­hyun said he ex­pects the two Koreas to ex­change mes­sages to de­ter­mine who would head each other’s del­e­ga­tions and other is­sues.

Any di­a­logue be­tween the Koreas is con­sid­ered a pos­i­tive step to­ward eas­ing con­fronta­tions.

But crit­ics say the North’s abrupt push for im­prov­ing ties may be a tac­tic to di­vide Seoul and Washington and weaken in­ter­na­tional pres­sure and sanc­tions on Py­ongyang.

De­spite his re­cent out­reach to the South, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s Day ad­dress that he has a “nu­clear but­ton” on his desk to fire atomic weapons at the United States.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump quickly re­sponded that he had a nu­clear but­ton of his own. Past break­throughs to ease Korean ten­sions have of­ten ended with re­newed an­i­mosi­ties.

It’s likely the North will agree to send a del­e­ga­tion to the Win­ter Olympics and re­frain from provo­ca­tions dur­ing the Games.

But ten­sions could re­turn after­ward be­cause the North has no in­ten­tions of aban­don­ing its weapons pro­grams and the US will not ease its pres­sure on the coun­try, an­a­lysts say.

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