Korea to take part in Olympics 

Korea to take part in Olympics 

Context

North and South Korea kicked off their first formal talks in more than two years on Tuesday, with both sides expressing optimism ahead of discussions on how the North’s athletes can attend the Winter Olympics in the South despite tensions

Backdrop

The talks come after North Korea’s Kim used his New Year’s Day speech to announce he was open to sending a delegation to the Olympics as well as reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula, while vowing to never give up his nuclear weapons programme

A closely watched affair

Regardless of its narrow, primarily sporting agenda, the meeting is being closely watched by world leaders eager for any sign of a reduction in tensions on the Korean peninsula amid rising fears over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions

Optimism & seriousness

  • North Korea entered the talks with a “serious and sincere stance,” said Mr.Ri, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland
  • His counterpart, South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, also expressed optimism

What all resultsare expected out of the meeting?

  • Participation in Olympics: The two sides are discussing North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the Paralympics as well as the improvement of inter-Korean relations
  • Resumption of reunion: Mr. Cho has said his delegation is also preparing to discuss resuming reunion of family members separated by the Korean War, which ended in a ceasefire and technically left the two Koreas still at war
  • Marching under a single flag: Some South Korean officials are hoping the two Koreas may even march under a single flag at the Winter Games, which would be the first time in more than a decade that the two Koreas united under one flag at a sporting event opening

Reaction of the US
The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, initially responded coolly to the idea of inter-Korean meeting

  • North Korea trying to weaken Washington-Seol relationship: The State Department had said Pyongyang “might be trying to drive a wedge” between Washington and Seoul and weaken a U.S.-led campaign to force North Korea to give up its development of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States

Trump’s reaction

  • Trump called the new talks “a good thing” and said they were prompted by his “firm, strong” stance.
  • Trump has said he would like to see talks go beyond the Olympics and added: “At the appropriate time, we’ll get involved.”

Denuclearisation: A major concern

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated last week that any future talks between the U.S. and North Korea must be aimed at denuclearisation, and warned that diplomatic efforts were backed by a strong military option if necessary

Delay in military exercises

South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to delay joint military exercises until after the Olympics in a bid to reduce tensions and possibly create room for diplomacy

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