World Bulletin / News Desk
Addressing South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, the North accepted Seoul’s proposal for ‘high-level’ dialogue on January 9.
The confirmation comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un punctuated nuclear tensions with a New Year’s Day offer of talks – prompting speculation that global sanctions are forcing a change in Pyongyang’s attitude.
The North had refused all attempts at dialogue by South Korean President Moon Jae-in since his inauguration last May, instead launching a series of ballistic missiles and conducting a sixth even nuclear test.
But the subject of next week’s scheduled meeting will likely be limited to Kim’s suggestion that his country could take part in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“The priority is on North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games,” a ranking South Korean official was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
“I believe there will be discussions related to improving South-North ties after the North's participation in the Olympics is finalized,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Seoul has been keen to avoid any North Korean provocations immediately before or during the Games.
In order to reduce the risk of upsetting Pyongyang, South Korea and the United States agreed Thursday to put off joint military drills until after the Winter Paralympics in March.
Amid claims North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between the allies, the South’s government remains adamant it will continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. going forward.