North Korea willing to hold talks with US, ex-spy chief says

North Korea has “enough” willingness to hold talks with the U.S., a former intelligence chief from the rogue country believed to be the mastermind behind a deadly attack on South Korea told the country’s president on Sunday. The Blue House, South Korea’s presidential office, reported Sunday the news of the meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Yong Chol, a senior official of the North’s ruling Worker’s Party, during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, according to Yonhap News Agency. “President Moon pointed out that U.S.-North Korea dialogue must be held at an early date even for an improvement in the South-North Korea relationship and the fundamental resolution of Korean Peninsula issues,” spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said of the meeting. The two met for an hour in Pyeongchang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Yonhap. “The North Korean delegation too agreed that North Korea-U.S. relations must develop along with the South-North Korea relationship while noting [the North] has enough intention to hold North Korea-U.S. dialogue,” the spokesman added. The United States and North Korea, which have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war after an armistice in 1953, have been at odds for decades. In recent months the war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump has escalated as the North tests nuclear missiles and Washington pushes the Hermit Kingdom to disarm. The White House said in a statement on Sunday that “denuclearization must be the result of any dialogue with North Korea.” “We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization. In the meantime, the United States and the world must continue to make clear that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are a dead end,” the statement read.

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