North Korea to send two athletes, but big team to Olympics

Kent Nishimura  Getty Images North America

Of course, there was no mention of the numerous times North Korea said they'd make Seoul a sea of flames, or any apology for the North's sinking of the South Korean vessel, the Cheonan, that killed 46 marines in 2010.

"The South Koreans are extremely interested in making sure they go off without a hitch", says Ian Bremmer, who heads risk consultancy the Eurasia Group.

That deal was struck during their first official talks in more than two years amid high tensions over the North's weapons programme.

North and South Korea have kicked off their first formal talks in more than two years, with both sides expressing optimism ahead of discussions on how the North's athletes can attend the Winter Olympics in the South despite tensions. Another sign of a thaw in relations between the neighbors included an agreement to hold military talks. The North could raise this issue at upcoming talks, along with its demand for Washington's suspension of regular deployment of its strategic assets around the peninsula.

Trump also said that he probably has a "very good relationship" with North Korean leader but did not confirm or deny if he had spoken to the leader in Pyongyang.

The White House said Wednesday that Trump was open to the USA holding talks with North Korea "under the right circumstances", after South Korean President Moon Jae-In signaled a willingness to sit down with Kim.

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The U.S. retains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the adversaries in a state of war for the past six decades. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration is quietly debating whether a limited "bloody nose" military strike was possible against a North Korea without provoking Kim Jong-Un to launch a horrific all-out war in response.

Lee writes that "having gained confidence in its ability to defend itself from US aggression, North Korea appears ready to move onto other important matters, like building its economy and improving relations with the South. ..." In Northeast Asia, the United States has invested billions of dollars to construct a trilateral missile defense system with South Korea and Japan to curtail China's power in the region.

Ri Son-gwon, chair of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, reads a joint press statement during the inter-Korean talks held at the Peace House in Panmunjeom on January 9.

The cheer squad, with its several hundred members, will help magnify the size of North Korea's Olympic contingent to observers. "And I know more about wedges than any human being that's lived".

Trump has previously scoffed at the futility of talking with the North, but when the inter-Korean dialogue was proposed last week, he claimed credit for it and declared in a tweet, "talks are a good thing". But it is indisputable that his strategy of ratcheting up pressure on other world powers like Russian Federation and China has delivered the most punitive sanctions ever enforced on North Korea.

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