South Korea's Moon willing to hold talks with Kim Jong-Un

South Koreas Moon willing to hold talks with Kim Jong-Un

Seoul - Pyongyang, which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, has agreed to send athletes and officials to Pyeongchang.


Published: Wed 10 Jan 2018, 12:40 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Jan 2018, 6:20 PM

South Korean President Moon Jae-In said on Wednesday he would be willing to sit down with the North's leader Kim Jong-Un, as the international community welcomed an agreement for Pyongyang to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics in the South.

The Games in Pyeongchang next month have long been overshadowed by geopolitical tensions, with the North launching missiles capable of reaching the US mainland in recent months and detonating by far its most powerful nuclear device to date.

But Pyongyang -- which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul -- on Tuesday agreed to send athletes and officials to the event as North and South held their first formal talks for two years at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.

"It is only the beginning," Moon told a press conference. "Yesterday was the first step and I think we had a good start."

"Bringing North Korea to talks for denuclearisation is the next step we must take."

He was willing to hold a summit "at any time", he said, as long as it was "under the right conditions".

"But it cannot be a meeting for meeting's sake. To hold a summit, the right conditions must be created and certain outcomes must be guaranteed."

Moon has long supported engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table over banned weapons programmes that have alarmed the US and the global community, and seen Pyongyang subjected to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions.

But the US has said the regime must stop nuclear tests if negotiations with Washington are to take place.

"We have no difference in opinion with the US," Moon insisted, saying they shared an understanding about security, were working together and were both threatened by the North's nuclear weapons and missiles.

But he stressed that the aim of sanctions was to bring North Korea to talks, and "stronger sanctions and pressures could further heighten tensions and lead to accidental armed conflicts".

"But thankfully, North Korea came to dialogue before tensions were heightened further," he said.

Seoul had no plans to ease its unilateral sanctions at present, Moon said.

US President Donald Trump has a much closer relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe than he does with Moon, and has claimed credit for the North-South talks.

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