Kim Urges Korean Reconciliation as North-South Talks Loom
By Staff Writers | teleSUR
Tuesday, Jan 9, 2018
A 'conference for national reunification for celebrating the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation' was held in Pyongyang. (FILE) | Photo: Reuters|
In merely a week, the governments of North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (the Republic of Korea) have made unexpectedly rapid progress toward re-establishing diplomatic contact. The question of whether the talks will lead to a breakthrough will face a crucial test Tuesday when the divided Koreas hold talks at the truce village of Panmunjom, located on the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two governments' regions of control.
According to the DPRK's official Korea Central News Agency, leader Kim Jong Un has stated his firm commitment to the reunification of North and South, expressing the need for conditions to be created that would allow for normalized relations between capitals that haven't spoken directly to one another in over two years.
"The head of the nation clearly stated that our country needs to stick to the policy, which will lead to the breakthrough of the all-sufficient unification," KCNA said, according to Russian news agency TASS. "It is not worth stirring up the past and recalling the specifics of relations with Seoul. Instead of this, relations between the North and South must be improved."
"It is not only about the normalization of the inter-Korean relations, but about the reconciliation of the nation and its free-will unification," the agency added.
The warm message comes after Seoul offered to send a luxury cruise ship to the North for the purpose of ferrying athletes and providing accommodation for a DPRK delegation to the Winter Olympics that will be held February in Pyeongchang.
The governor of Gangwon province, where the games are being held, offered the cruise ship to a DPRK official in hopes that the North would send a mix of high-level officials, cheerleaders and athletes to the Olympic games.
Should the DPRK attend the event, the two states may march under a single flag at a sports opening ceremony for the first time in more than a decade and even compete as a single nation, experts and officials have suggested. It would also mark the first time in post-war Olympic history that a country has hosted a team from a nation with which it is officially at war. The Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
On Sunday, the DPRK announced a list of five officials who will represent Pyongyang, a day after South Korea confirmed its representatives, the South's unification ministry said.
The North's delegation will be led by Ri Son Gwon, head of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland that is usually tasked with dealing with South Korean affairs.
Right-wing opponents of the talks in the South have raised their concerns by claiming Seoul will be breaching U.N. sanctions resolutions if it provides a cruise ship or financial support to athletes in the North.
Pyongyang warned, however, against the use of “improper pretexts and legal and institutional tools” that may be used as a “deceptive” gambit to stymie talks and misguide public opinion worldwide.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is open to future dialogue with Pyongyang, with strict preconditions.
The DPRK has not responded to Trump's remarks nor extended the olive branch to Washington that it did to its compatriots in the South.
Coming on the heels of the re-opening of the communication channel between the two Koreas, Washington and Seoul on have agreed not to conduct any joint military drill during the upcoming winter games until March 2018.
The election of a left of center government in Seoul has heightened Washington's concerns that its junior partners in the South are growing more assertive and less bent on challenging Pyongyang alongside U.S. forces.
Under two previous right-wing South Korean administrations, economic and other links between the two states were severed.
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