North and South Korea have agreed to their first high-level talks in two years, with the emergence in diplomacy helped by the U.S. backing away from military drills.
Officials in Seoul announced Friday morning that the Kim Jong Un regime had agreed to meet their delegation in the “truce village” talk of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone, on Tuesday as they discuss possible cooperation for the Winter Olympics next month.
Kim had signaled in his New Year’s address that he is considering sending athletes to his southern neighbor’s festivities in Pyeongchang, setting off a move towards diplomacy after months of missiles launches and angry messages.
President Trump, who had engaged in a war of words and insults with Kim including saying that his “nuclear button” is bigger than the North Korean’s, tried on Thursday to claim credit for the talks.
“With all of the failed “experts” weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!” he said on Twitter.
However, another diplomatic lever that allowed the trickle of hope for peace to flow forward was a delay in U.S.-South Korean military drills.
The drills, relatively common between the two countries’ armed forces, have repeatedly angered North Korea, which seems them as an act of aggression.
U.S. and South Korean officials decided after a phone call between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to wait to conduct the drills until after the Olympics.
Observers have been unsure whether the renewed talks, the first since late 2015, are reason for real hope or will collapse into further animosity after the Games.
With News Wire Services
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