Seoul: North Korea and South Korea appear to embracing talks aimed at reducing tensions between the two neighbors and nemeses, just days after North Korea's leader threatened that he has a ‘nuclear button’ ready on his desk. Rare talks to improve inter-Korean relations appeared to be going well on Tuesday, with North Korea saying that it will send as many athletes as possible to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.
Talks in the border village of Panmunjom seemingly went so well that South Korean delegates suggested a ‘family reunion’ for next month's Lunar New Year, to reunite relatives separated in both countries since the 1950-53 Korean War and one of only a number of sporadic reunions that have been held over the years.
South Korea also proposed inter-Korean military talks to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the South's Foreign Ministry said later on Tuesday that it was willing to consider temporarily lifting sanctions against North Korea to facilitate the Olympic visit.
North Korea's delegates, meanwhile, said in a keynote speech following the discussions that they hoped "to solve all inter-Korean issues through dialogue." News also came later on Tuesday that North Korea had completed technical maintenance needed to reopen a military hotline with South Korea.
Both sides concluded the first round of talks promising further discussions, though somewhat tellingly the North Korean delegation returned to the Panmungak (a North Korean building in the infamous demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea) on the north side of the border for lunch.
The fast-thawing relations are in stark contrast with the atmosphere at the start of the year, when North Korean President Kim Jong Un gave a New Year's Day address in which he said the Communist state's nuclear weapons could reach anywhere in the United States an important ally with South Korea and threatened that he has a nuclear button on his desk.