Formal talks viewed as glimmer of hope amidst talk of “nuclear buttons”
North Korea and South Korea have agreed to sit down for formal talks for the first time in two years, the AP reported.
Friday morning North Korea announced that it would meet at the border village of Panmunjom next week to discuss the country’s cooperation in the Olympics and how to improve ties with its rival to the south.
The message came shortly after the United States announced that it would delay annual military exercises in South Korea until after Winter Olympics are held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that the exercises, which are held every year between February and April, will resume after the March 9-18 Paralympic Games.
The formal talks come amid heated tensions between North Korea and the United States, with leaders from both countries trading Tweets over who has the more powerful “nuclear button.”
Mattis told reporters that the talks between North and South Korea “clearly are the result of the amount of international pressure,” and questioned whether North Korean President Kim Jong Un’s intentions.
“It is difficult for me to disassociate that he’s now wanting to negotiate on any issue, with months and months of unanimous United Nations Security Council effort,” he told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday according to a Voice of America report.