Korea seeks to discuss divided families, easing tensions at inter-Korean talks

Members of the North Korean delegation left with

North Korea's participation in PyeongChang and a rapprochement between the two Koreas could contribute to easing the peninsular tensions that were raised throughout 2017 by Pyongyang's regular ballistic weapons tests and US President Donald Trump's belligerent rhetoric.

The long-stalled talks come after the North's leader Kim Jong Un indicated in his New Year's speech that Pyongyang was willing to send a delegation to the Winter Games in the South.

The South Korean government on Tuesday will announce its official view on the previous administration's 2015 deal with Japan meant to resolve the issue of wartime "comfort women", with several diplomatic sources saying Seoul will call on Tokyo to voluntarily take additional action.

"The entire process of past North-South relations shows that efforts to improve bilateral ties can come to fruition only when the two sides work together based upon cooperation among Korean people", said the article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

This is an apparent reference to increased criticism by the conservative South Korean opposition, which argues that financing the North's athletes in PyeongChang could violate worldwide sanctions imposed on the Kim Jong-un regime for its weapons programme.

He says North Korea's Kim Jong Un - who's threatened the USA with a nuclear attack - "knows I'm not messing around, not even a little bit, not even 1 percent". The annual event helps maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

"We will listen to what North Korea will say".

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High-level officials from the two Koreas are slated to talk Tuesday about North Korea's possible participation in the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea, but it's uncertain whether longer-term relations between the two countries will be discussed. "There is no turnaround", she stated on ABC's This Week. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed openness to their participation, and President of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games Lee Hee-beom has proposed powerful exhibitions of solidarity should North Korea be allowed to compete, suggesting the two Koreas march under the same flag in the opening ceremony and even form joint figure skating and ice skating teams. North Korea has not responded to Seoul's offer.

The Trump administration has agreed to delay upcoming springtime drills with South Korea until after the Olympic Games.

Analysts say tensions could flare again after the Olympics, with US and South Korean troops carrying out their delayed drills, and North Korea likely responding with new weapons tests.

In spite of the back and forth between the leaders, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the decision to suspend military exercises was reached for non-political reasons.

An agreement by South Korea to revive a jointly run industrial park or a tourism project could also draw criticism from overseas that it violates United Nations sanctions because they would result in South Korean money being sent to North Korea, critics say.

Ri, who has a military background, is known as one of the closest aides to Kim Yong-chol, the head of the ruling party's United Front Department and former chief of North Korea's reconnaissance bureau.

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