PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 03: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, A South Korean government official checks the direct communications hotline to talk with the North Korean side at the border village of Panmunjom on January 3, 2018 in Panmunjom, South Korea. North Korean media has reported that an inter-Korean communication line was reopened at the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday in response to South Korea's unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposing holding high-level talks with North Korea ahead of winter Olympics on February 9. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
South and North Korea have agreed to high-level talks next week, reported Yonhap on Friday.
Seoul’s unification ministry confirmed that Pyongyang had notified its acceptance of the South’s latest offer for high-level talks. The talks are scheduled for next Tuesday, Jan 9.
The main agenda items will include discussing the potential for North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told press at a regular briefing.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics begin on Feb. 9 through to Feb. 15, in an alpine town located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the border.
“The two sides decided to discuss working-level issues by exchanging documents,” Tae-hyun told the press briefing, reported Yonhap.
The talks will be the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015.
According to the Yonhap report, experts have said that North Korea’s overture to the South may be aimed at weakening the international commitment to economic sanctions on Pyongyang and driving a wedge between Seoul and Washington D.C in their decades-long alliance.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time,” referring to the international sanctions pushed by his administration over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.