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Intra-Korean and US-North Korean talks are the pillars to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula

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Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Inter-Korean and US-North Korea talks are “major pillars” of any talks aimed at denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s foreign ministry said today.

Intra-Korean relations improved since the beginning of this year, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un picked up an olive branch tree offered by South Korea, and agreed to send North Korean athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“We will seek consensus from the international community on the need to create a virtuous cycle, in that improving inter-Korean relations could translate into finding a solution to the North’s nuclear problem,” the ministry said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said she would try to “persuade” North Korea to hold talks with the United States and resume bilateral relations.

Despite recent signs of Washington’s openness to possible negotiations with Pyongyang, there is much uncertainty about “if” and “when” these might be held.

The US blamed North Korea for cancelling at the last minute a meeting between the delegations present in South Korea for the opening of the PyeongChang Olympics.

According to US officials, the meeting was not going to be an opportunity to soften the tone between the two countries, but to deliver face-to-face the US administration’s tough stance against North Korea.

During his visit to South Korea, Pence cast himself as a warrior against North Korean propaganda at the Olympics, and announced the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against the regime yet.

For its part, although determined to continue its nuclear programme, North Korea invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang for a high-level summit.

South Korea accepted the invitation, but remains determined not to ease sanctions against the North, Foreign Minister Kang noted today.

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