North Korea has said it is open to holding talks with the United States, according to the South Korean government. It is the first sign of willingness in years.
In an hour-long meeting just as the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang were coming to a close, North Korean representatives delivered the message to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The statement Moon’s office released afterward did not mention whether the talks would involve denuclearization, according to the Washington Post. “The North agrees that inter-Korean relations and North Korea-U.S. relations should improve together,” Moon’s office said in a statement.
Earlier that day, the North had released a statement condemning Trump’s announcement on Friday of new sanctions and accusing the U.S. of trying to stoke conflict on the Korean peninsula just as the relationship between the two Koreas had started warm during the Olympic Games.
In the past, Trump has said he was willing to enter talks with North Korea if the country becomes open to giving up its nuclear weapons. North Korea has repeatedly said it will not debate denuclearization. But the New York Times reported on Feb. 13, at the start of the Olympics, that the Trump administration was more open to holding talks with Korea after Vice President Pence’s visit to the Olympics and meeting with Moon.
The U.S. and North Korea have had a year of tense interactions, as leaders from both countries have threatened war and North Korea conducted missile and nuclear tests.