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The Koreas Start Talking

2018-01-09 09:35:38       source:The Atlantic

January 8, 2018

North and South Korean officials are meeting Tuesday for the first time in two years to discuss North Korea’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

Talks in the border village of Panmunjom will center on the games in PyeongChang, said Cho Myoung-gyon, the South Korean unification minister, on Monday. But he added: “When discussing inter-Korean relations, the government will seek to raise the issue of war-torn families and ways to ease military tensions.” North Korea is going to be interested in sanctions relief, according to Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The country is under a host of U.S. and UN sanctions for its illicit nuclear and missile programs.

Two weeks ago, such talks would have seemed unimaginable. Over the past year, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen over the North’s ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons programs. The North says its weapons programs are a deterrent against possible U.S. aggression and points to the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea as evidence of Washington’s intentions. The U.S. points out that its joint military exercises are legal under international law while North Korea’s missile and nuclear-weapons programs are not.

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