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North and South Koreas Begin Talking
After what is being described as a successful meeting between two high-level leaders of North and South Korea, there is discussion that a meeting between the two heads of the quarreling countries will soon take place.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea told journalists that he is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a position he has long held but only seems could become reality in the wake of the successful recent high-level talks. The meeting led to an invitation for North Korea to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea in February.
There have been no meetings between the respective heads of the two Koreas since 2007, and Kim Jong Un has never met with any world leader since he took over from his father’s reign in 2011.
The meeting is not expected any time soon, but some analysts believe it could happen sometime within the next five years, the duration of Moon’s term as president. He came to power in May 2017.
“Kim has never met any foreign leader, so it would be meaningful for him to make his first summit a meeting between Koreans,” one expert said.
The agreement allows North Korea to send officials, athletes, cheerleaders, reporters and others to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, a mountainous area near the border between North and South. The number of people in this delegation will number between 400 and 500. The deal also says that the two Koreas will actively cooperate in the Olympics to “enhance the prestige of the Korean people.”
The next step is military talks to try and de-escalate the recent nuclear threats from the North Korean missile program. A military hotline is going to be re-established, opening inter-Korean communications, which had originally been shut down due to nuclear tensions.
“It’s still very early in this process, and we have to see how much momentum it acquires, but so far this year is definitely getting off to a very different start,” said John Delury, a China and North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul. “You have to knock on the door to see if it will open.”