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Do Korea talks put initiative back with Seoul and Pyongyang?

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could already be considered a successful step in relations. Now that the meeting is over, what outcomes did it bring? Patrick Köllner: First off, it was agreed at Tuesday's talks that North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This also guarantees that the games will be peaceful and quiet. This is of the utmost importance for the South Korean government. It is also expected that family reunions between the North and South will resume after being suspended for several years. Trust-building measures could also emerge in the form of talks between the two countries' militaries. Read more: North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks Those are the tangible results - but what in your opinion is the most important message that can be read between the lines after the meeting in Panmunjom? One important message is that North and South Korea, the most important actors in the middle of this conflict, have actually managed to begin talking again. The initiative is once again with Seoul and Pyongyang. The last year was characterized overall by North Korea's armament efforts and the resulting reaction from the United States and the international community. It is crucial that the two Korean governments communicate because this conflict primarily affects 50 million Koreans. Do you think anything surprising happened during the meeting, or did the talks go as expected? The talks went positively in the sense that North Korea, after everything that we know, did not insist that planned military exercises between the US and South Korea be called off. The exercises, which were planned directly after the games, were postponed, but not cancelled. Requiring they be called off would most likely have led to the talks collapsing. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks What were the goals and background agenda for each side during the talks? North Korea, of course, continues to follow the strategic aim of putting a wedge in the alliance between Washington and Seoul. But South Korea certainly knows this, and this alone doesn't exclude the possibility of reintroducing increased economic cooperation between the two Koreas. The drive to increase economic cooperation has been put on ice for the past few years because of North Korea's nuclear weapons testing. Even deliveries of humanitarian aid from South Korea were reduced. North Korea has an interest in once again promoting economic cooperation. South Korea has an interest in not letting important discussions about developments on the Korean Peninsula bypass Seoul. The positions of both sides seem incompatible. The North wants to keep its nuclear program and the South wants a nuclear weapon-free peninsula. How much maneuvering room do negotiators on each side have? Negotiations are complicated by the fact that possibilities for compromise are limited by the international sanctions regime hung on North Korea. Of course, South Korea cannot come out with its own measures that violate these sanctions. US interests in the background also complicate matters, and there is always the need to coordinate with Washington in addition to Seoul and Pyongyang. But trust-building measures could be possible, especially with the military. South Korean humanitarian aid could also be increased. These small steps could be the basis of talks on larger issues, which could also include the US and the question of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Read more: North Korea reopens hotline to South to talk Olympics Interceptions cut off another source of North Korean fuel After today's talks, is it too early to hope for an overall relaxation of tensions? We need to keep in mind that the discussions did not change the fundamental constellation of issues. North Korea's weapons program continues and Kim Jong Un promised in his New Year's address to increase weapons production. Big challenges remain. But there are also positive takeaways – especially the fact that diplomacy is once again playing a role. We have spent the past year considering the possibility of military action. It is really a positive development to see examples of diplomacy. Professor Patrick Köllner is director of the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg. The interview was conducted by Esther Felden.

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could ... Read More »

North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and "actively cooperate" in next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday, South Korean media reported. The decision to hold the military talks comes after the two countries concluded their first talks in two years to discuss the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics But a discussion of North Korea's nuclear program and its weapons arsenal would negatively impact inter-Korean ties, a North Korean official said. "North Korea's weapons are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, China or Russia," said Ri Son Gwon, head of North Korea's delegation, adding that Pyongyang's nuclear program was not an issue between North and South Korea. A 'great step forward' North Korea offered to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the games, as well as journalists, a cheering squad, a team of performing artists and a taekwondo demonstration team, according to South Korean officials. The International Olympic Commitee said North Korea's participation was a "great step forward" for the Olympics. Delegations of five senior officials from each side met at the "peace house" on the South Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village as the two countries officially held talks for the first time in two years. South Korea proposed that the athletes from both countries march together at the opening and closing ceremonies, South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters. He also said his country proposed resuming family reunions and military discussions to prevent "accidental clashes" in frontline areas. During the talks, North and South agreed to restore a military hotline, less than a week after an civilian cross-border phone link was reopened. The hotline is due to be fully operational by Wednesday. "Accordingly, our side decided to start using the military telephone line, starting 8 a.m. tomorrow," Hae-sung said. Read more: North Korea 'likely' to take part in Winter Olympics in South Korea 'A New Year's gift' Entering the talks, officials from both countries made positive statements about discussions concerning the Winter Olympics. "I think we should be engaged in these talks with an earnest, sincere manner to give a New Year's first gift — precious results to the Korean nation," Ri said. Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea's Unification Minister, believed the Pyeongchang Olympics "will become a peace Olympics as most valuable guests from the North are going to join many others from around the world." Ri and Cho shook hands as they entered the peace house and again across the table where the talks took place. "The people have a strong desire to see the North and South move toward peace and reconciliation," Cho said. China, Russia, US welcome talks China said it welcomed the high-level talks between the North and South Korea representatives ahead of the Olympics. "We are very pleased that the high-level talks between the two Koreas could be held," said spokesman Lu Kang. "As a neighbour of the Korean peninsula, China welcomes and supports the recent positive actions taken by the two Koreas to ease their mutual relations." Russia also welcomed the conversation between the two. "This is exactly the kind of dialogue that we said was necessary," a Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump, who has taken repeated jabs at Kim on his Twitter account, had also called the talks "a good thing." But the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, later said the administration was not changing its conditions regarding US talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a "significant amount of time." Tuesday's summit was arranged after North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, recently called for improved relations with South Korea. North Korea's push to develop nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions had stoked tensions with the South.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and “actively cooperate” in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, they ... Read More »

Beijing to host 2022 Winter Olympics

The host of the 2022 Winter Olympics has been decided and it is China's capital that has ended up winners, beating Almaty, Kazakhstan to host the Games. Beijing was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be awarded both summer and winter Games. Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. The Chinese capital won a secret ballot of IOC members, which was held at the an IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The only other candidate city was Almaty, Kazakhstan. The final tally was 44 votes for Beijing and 40 for Almaty. Four European cities, including Stockholm and Oslo, were initially in the running to host the 2022 Olympics but pulled out one by one, citing lack of local support and concerns about costs spiraling out of control. Beijing will use some of the venues built for the 2008 Games but will host many of the events far outside the city limits. One site is in Yanqing, and the other is in Zhangjiakou. Neither location is expected to have enough snow to facilitate competitions naturally, so the Beijing organizing committee has already indicated it plans on extensive and possibly exclusive use of artificial snow. The IOC also awarded the Swiss city of Lausanne was awarded the Winter Youth Olympics for 2020, beating Brasov, Romania. Lillehammer, Norway, will host the Winter Youth Olympics in 2016. The Winter Youth Olympics, featuring seven sports from the Winter Games, is for athletes between the ages of 15 and 18.

The host of the 2022 Winter Olympics has been decided and it is China’s capital that has ended up winners, beating Almaty, Kazakhstan to host the Games. Beijing was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be awarded both summer and winter Games. Beijing hosted ... Read More »

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