Pyongyang Accepts Seoul's Offer of High-Level Talks Next Week

South Korea and US soldiers stand guard during an event to commemorate the 64th Anniversary of the Korean War armistice

Olympic Solidarity is a fund established by the IOC with proceeds from broadcasting rights, donations, and Olympic ticket sales to provide athlete and coach development funds to national Olympic committees in need of assistance.

"We in this administration understand the seriousness of what it is we are undertaking".

The first round of dialogue will focus on North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang OlympicsNorth and South Korea will soon be sitting down at the negotiating table for the first time in two years and one month. The North's reply came two days after it restored the telephone line at Panmunjeom on Wednesday.

North Korea has yet to respond to the South Korean proposal, leaving some uncertainty as to the agenda and the venue of the talks. One of the characteristics of the talks scheduled for January 9 is that they were achieved through "indirect conservation" between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The more impatient the South gets, the more it will likely lose in negotiations.

When talks enter a stage of dealing with more serious issues such as economic, humanitarian or military matters, the South must be prudent and cautious.

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On Wednesday, North Korea reopened a cross-border phone line inside the Koreas' shared village of Panmunjom after suspending it for almost two years. It is imperative to remove nukes from the peninsula, whether talks are held or not. Colonel Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement Thursday that "in the spirit of the Olympic Games, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will de-conflict the start of our annual U.S. -ROK joint exercises until after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics".

Considering the North's erstwhile behaviour pattern where it seeks dialogue to buy time or deflect sanctions then resumes provocations, cavilling at minor things, prudent and cool-headed steps are needed when negotiating with Pyongyang.

The abrupt decision by South Korea and the U.S. to delay their joint military exercises - to which North Korea has long objected - until after the Pyeongchang Olympics is also improving the prospects for talks. On Wednesday a hotline between the two governments was reopened for the first time in almost two years, and face-to-face talks could begin next week.

Speaking to CNN, Tillerson made clear that Washington was also open to talks with North Korea, but warned that while it aimed to resolve the crisis diplomatically, "those diplomatic efforts are backed by a strong military option if necessary".

It is consequently heartening that Kim coupled his latest threats with an offer to open a dialogue with South Korea - an opening quickly seized by the South's president, Moon Jae-in.

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