S Korea, US discuss on developing ties with N Korea
Washington D.C [USA], Jan 12: South Korea and the United States on Thursday discussed on how to develop ties with North Korea, after the former agreed to hold talks in the first time in two years with its arch-rival South Korea, over North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month. Lee Do-hoon, the special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, arrived in Washington D.C on Wednesday and met Joseph Yun, the US special representative for North Korea policy, and Matthew Pottinger, the senior director for Asian affairs on the White House National Security Council, to discuss on the outcome of the high-level talks between the two Koreas, the Yonhap news agency reported. Lee said, "I explained the results of the South-North high-level talks to the US side, and they expressed their understanding and support. We have talked about ways to develop South-North and North-US ties, and based on our coordination with the US, we plan to move on to the next stage." South Korea will hope that the talks with North Korea will provide a breakthrough for the US and North Korea to sort out their differences, especially North Korea's persistent nuclear missile tests their talks. "The coordination between South Korea and the US becomes ever more important during serious times. Thankfully, our coordination has recently been ideally smooth", Lee said. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a re-conciliatory New Year message in a televised address to the nation, had also said that North Korea was willing to hold high-level talks with the South. South Korean President Moon Jae-in hoped that the bilateral talks between the two Koreas could pave way for the de-nuclearisation and peace across the Korean peninsula and broader coordination between the US and South Korea. Also, North Korea re-opened the suspended inter-Korean communication hotline with South Korea, after it was closed down in February 2016. Also, a military hotline between the two countries was opened. A senior South Korean government official noted that the North Korean regime will have no choice but to hold talks with the US if it wanted to develop its stagnating economy. "Unless it takes steps to resolve the mounting sanctions against it, it will be impossible to develop the economy," he said on the condition of anonymity. The United Nations, Russia and China have recently welcomed the rare high-level talks between the two Koreas. Recently, the US President Donald Trump expressed interest and willingness to hold talks with North Korea. The reply came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned the United States that "the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office". Rising tensions between the US and North Korea, which conducted its largest nuclear test in September and fired off a powerful ICBM in late November, have raised concerns worldwide. Trump has long been trading insults with Jong-un over this issue. While he referred to Jong-un as "rocket man", his rival had previously called him a "mentally deranged dotard". The rare high-level talks come amid the increasing tension between the two countries as South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker returning after allegedly transferring oil to North Korea a few days ago. North Korea is also under tough international sanctions imposed by the UN over the launch of three intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other nuclear tests conducted in the last year.