Pentagon: Trump agrees to delay US-South Korean exercises

North Korea agreed on Friday to hold official talks with South Korea next week, the first in more than two years, hours after Washington and Seoul delayed a military exercise amid a standoff over the North's nuclear and missile programmes.

In response, South Korea's unification minister Cho Myoung-Gyon on Tuesday offered to hold high-level talks on January 9 to discuss the North's participation in the Olympics as well as other matters of mutual interest.

Trump tweeted on Thursday, "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".

The North-South emergency hotline, meanwhile, is located in the so-called "truce village" of Panmunjom inside the heavily guarded "demilitarized zone" or DMZ that divides the Korean peninsula.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that "overly optimistic expectations" were "undesirable", but added: "We will do our best to make the Pyeongchang Olympics an Olympics for peace and settle the nuclear issue peacefully".

What the neighbors had to say to each other may disappoint those who looked at this moment as a turning point for the countries, which had not had any direct contact in almost two years since relations broke down over the North's missile and nuclear tests and the South's decision to close down the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex.

Beyond that it's considering forming a single Korea Olympics team, entering the opening and closing ceremonies together or forming a single Korea cheering squad, the report said, citing a roadmap for negotiations from South Korea's presidential office.

Friday's announcement came not long after US and South Korea agreed to postpone one of the world's largest military exercises until after the Winter Olympics next month. "Those talks are clearly the result of the amount of global pressure (on North Korea), and they are a way for North Korea to start talking while keeping it contained to a benign issue". The last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015. Commercial satellite imagery suggested that North Korea was preparing for a rocket engine test at the Sohae launch facility in the country's northeast, the website 38 North reported Friday. Officials in Beijing have sought to get the parties back to negotiations to reduce the risk of a USA military strike that could topple their longtime ally or draw them into a regional conflict.

  • Adam Floyd