WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the suggestion by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he is open to dialogue with South Korea could be good news, though he cautioned it will be necessary to wait and see what happens.
“Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!” he added, using the nickname with which he habitually labels Kim Jong-un.
The North Korean leader said in his year’s end speech that he is open to dialogue with South Korea, and will even send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, to be held on South Korean territory between Feb. 9-25.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday willingly picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Kim and asked his Cabinet to “swiftly come up with follow-up measures to quickly restore South-North Korean dialogue” and make it possible for a North Korean delegation to compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Hours later, the South Korean government proposed to North Korea that a high-level meeting be held next Jan. 9 to pave the way for its participation in the Winter Olympics, which would be the first such meeting between the neighboring countries in more than two years.
The meeting, which has not yet been accepted by the north, would come at a time of particular tension on the peninsula, due to Pyongyang’s repeated tests of missiles and nuclear arms, and Trump’s harsh responses to those tests.
Last year, North Korea launched around 20 missiles, some of them intercontinental ballistic missiles, and carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.