Yonhap: Two Koreas Kick Off High-Level Talks on Winter Olympics, Ties
South and North Korea began their first formal talks in more than two years Tuesday to discuss the North's potential participation in next month's Winter Olympics and ways to improve their long-stalled ties.
The high-level talks started at 10:00 a.m. at the truce village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified border area, according to Seoul's unification ministry.
The meeting came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare rapprochement to Seoul in his New Year's Day message. He expressed a willingness to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics and said the country is open for dialogue.
North Korea accepted Seoul's dialogue offer Friday after the South and the United States agreed to postpone their military drills until after the Olympics. It also reopened a long-disconnected border hotline.
"I came here with hopes that the two Koreas hold talks with a sincere and faithful attitude to give precious results to the Korean people who harbor high expectations for this meeting, as the first new year present," Ri Son-gwon, North Korea's chief delegate, said at the start of the talks.
He is the chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, North Korea's state agency handling affairs with the South.
"These talks started after long-frayed inter-Korean ties," said Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, the South's chief negotiator, in response. "Well begun is half done. I hope that (the two sides) could hold the talks with determination and persistence."
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