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FM Kang says US and NK willing to sit and talk

South Korea's top diplomat has said that she is sure that both the United States and North Korea are willing to hold dialogue, which is crucial to denuclearizing Pyongyang.

The US and North Korea, both of whom sent delegations to South Korea in time for the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, sought to meet on the sidelines of the Games. The North, however, canceled at the last minute.

"There wasn't direct contact, but you know, in our discussions with each, we did ascertain that they are, both sides, willing to sit and discuss," Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in an English interview with Singapore's Channel News Asia, which was aired Wednesday.

"And so the task now is how do you bring the two sides together."

Kang Kyung-hwa (Yonhap)
Kang Kyung-hwa (Yonhap)

Following a two-day trip by President Moon Jae-in's special envoys to Pyongyang, the government announced Wednesday that the two Koreas agreed to hold a summit in late April and establish a hotline between the leaders.

It added that North Korea expressed its willingness to discuss with the US ways to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula. The envoys are to visit the US this week to share the outcome of the trip.

A reconciliatory mood has grown in a dramatic way since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day speech that he could send athletes to the Winter Games.

The North participated in the sporting event after a series of inter-Korean talks. Its delegation also visited the South last month to attend its opening ceremony and delivered an invitation to the South Korean president.

"From the start of the year, beginning with the New Year's address, their participation in the Olympics, the engagement around the Olympics, was rather at a quick pace than anybody had expected, in fact," Kang said.

She still expressed concerns that any additional provocation by the North would be "hugely disruptive of this dialogue momentum that has been created around the Olympics." (Yonhap)

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