North, South Korea agree to first talks in two years
♦ Trump takes credit for bringing two Koreas together
♦ Don't spoil chance for peace: Moscow tells Washington
North Korea yesterday agreed to hold official talks with the South next week, the first in more than two years, hours after the United States and South Korea delayed a military exercise amid a standoff over the North's nuclear and missile programmes.
South Korea said the North had sent its consent for the talks to be held on Tuesday. The last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015.
The meeting will take place at the border truce village of Panmunjom where officials from both sides are expected to discuss the Winter Olympics, to be held in the South next month, and other inter-Korean relations, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters.
North Korea asked for further negotiations about the meeting to be carried out via documented exchanges, Baik said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un opened the way for talks with South Korea in a New Year's Day speech in which he called for reduced tensions and flagged the North's possible participation in the Winter Olympics.
But Kim remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying the North would mass produce nuclear missiles for operational deployment and again warned he would launch a nuclear strike if his country was threatened.
In a tweet, Trump, who hurled fresh insults at the North Korean leader this week, took credit for any dialogue that takes place.
"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," Trump tweeted.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov yesterday called on Washington not to spoil the opportunity for dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang, news agency TASS said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang welcomed North and South Korea for "taking positive steps to improve ties".