SEOUL – The high-level North Korean delegation that visited South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics returned to their country on Tuesday after expressing the regime’s willingness to hold talks with the United States.
The eight-member team led by General Kim Yong-Chol crossed the border at around midday, according to a statement by the South Korean Ministry of Unification.
The group ended a three-day visit to the South in which it repeatedly expressed its willingness to talk with the US.
Washington has shown some skepticism so far. The White House simply expressed the hope that North Korea’s offer will mark the first steps towards the road to the denuclearization of the regime.
US President Donald Trump clarified on Monday that Washington, too, wants to talk but only in the right circumstances.
Washington has long insisted that Pyongyang must accept denuclearization as a prerequisite to negotiations.
The journey of the North Korean delegation to the South was part of the “Olympic thaw” between the two Koreas which, during the recently concluded PyeongChang Games, have made their greatest rapprochement in years.
Seoul is convinced that improving relations with its neighbor, with which it technically has been at war for 65 years, can enable Pyongyang and Washington to discuss the North Korean nuclear program after 2017 was marked by repeated weapons tests by North Korea and exchanges of verbal threats.