Russia, China welcome Koreas’ agreement to talk
Russia and China have welcomed an agreement by North and South Koreas to resume dialog after two years.
A Russian Foreign Ministry source was cited by RIA news agency on Friday as saying that Moscow hopes “this positive trend will be underpinned by concrete agreements aiming at a settlement in the Korean Peninsula.”
China’s Foreign Ministry also acknowledged the concrete efforts to improve ties on the Korean Peninsula. A ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the talks scheduled for next week would be conducive to improving the situation on the peninsula.
North Korea on Friday agreed to an offer by South Korea to hold high-level talks on January 9.
The two Koreas have long had strained ties. The last high-level talks between the two neighbors was held in December 2015 to ease border tensions but ended without any agreement. Tensions recently skyrocketed with repeated North Korean missile and nuclear tests and increased South Korean joint military action with the United States.
However, a series of overtures between the two Koreas began when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un used his annual New Year address to express interest in dialog with the South as well as in North Korean participation in the Winter Olympic Games, to be held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang from February 9 to 25. South Korea quickly responded by proposing the high-level talks.
Officials from the two countries will now meet in Panmunjom, the truce village located within the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula, on the scheduled date.
Kim later also ordered that a cross-border telephone hotline with South Korea be reopened.
The United States and South Korea have, meanwhile, agreed to delay joint military exercises until after the Winter Olympics.
Such joint maneuvers have been a main cause of tensions between the two Koreas.