Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(2nd LD) S. Korea's presidential office hails North's proposal on PyeongChang delegation

All News 20:08 January 01, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from press briefing in paras 6-12)

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office welcomed Monday's proposal by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to send a delegation to the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics slated for next month.

"We welcome that Kim expressed willingness to send a delegation and proposed talks as he acknowledged the need for improvement in inter-Korean ties," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun told a press briefing. "The successful launch of the games will contribute to stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in East Asia and the rest of the world."

In a televised message earlier, Kim said he could send a delegation to the games and is open to talks with Seoul. But he also made it clear that his country would not give up its nuclear and missile programs, and he claimed that a "nuclear button" is always on his desk.

Cheong Wa Dae stressed that it has always intended to hold talks with the North regardless of "time, place or manner" so long as such a meeting can help restore frayed relations and improve overall stability in the region.

"We hope to sit together (with the North) as concerned parties to find a solution to enhance stability on the peninsula while engaging with the international community in resolving the nuclear issue," the office said.

After the press briefing, a senior presidential official said that the North's proposal is significant as it signals the start of a new phase in inter-Korean relations.

"We hope today's proposal and response will play a catalytic role in relations," the official told reporters, asking not to be named.

But the government remained cautious about the possibility of immediately holding working-level talks for the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue.

"We're not at that stage yet. It's time to check how North Korea and the international community respond to our stated position," the official said. "We cautiously welcomed the signal of the start of dialogue, but need to proceed it while carefully and closely analyzing the true meaning and intention behind the North's New Year message."

The message came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed to the United States that the allies delay upcoming joint military drills that may coincide with the PyeongChang Olympics. The North has long denounced the exercises as a war rehearsal and used it as an excuse for its provocations.

When asked if the North's peace gesture came in response to Moon's proposal for the postponement of the joint South Korea-U.S. military drills, the official said: "It's hard to clearly say so, but we should see this a result of President Moon's proposal made in coordination with the international community, including the U.S."

Asked if the allies will announce any delay of their joint drills in response to the North's proposal for talks, the official said he thinks that there should be a corresponding signal to the North's change. "I hope we will soon enter a phase where South Korea and the U.S. send such a signal."


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!