N Korea must stop nuke testing before any talks with US: Haley

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On Friday morning, North Korea sent a message saying it would accept South Korea's offer to meet at the border village of Panmunjom next Tuesday to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.

Concerns over North Korea have overshadowed the Winter Games, which Seoul and the organizers have proclaimed a "peace Olympics", urging Pyongyang to participate, unlike the 1988 Summer Olympics in the South, which it boycotted.

"I think the Trump administration might be interested in talks with North Korea to see if they are honest about denuclearization", said Shin Beom-chul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. "And at the appropriate time, we'll get involved", Trump added, while at the Camp David presidential retreat Saturday.

At the same time, US and South Korean leaders vowed that the dialogue won't weaken their hard stance against the North's burgeoning nuclear and missile programs.

Trump claimed credit for the marginal advance, saying without his "tough stance" and heated rhetoric "they wouldn't be talking about the Olympics, and they wouldn't be talking right now".

"The president has made very clear that were going to do everything we can to do that in a way that doesn't involve military action", Pompeo said, "but has equally made clear that we're not going to stand for allowing Kim Jong Un to hold Los Angeles, or Denver, or NY at risk". "North Korea has successfully withstood the pressure exerted by the US", Vijayan said.

South Korea's interest in reaching out to the North is likely aimed at avoiding problems during the Winter Games. "They'd be doing no talking, or something much more serious".

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Kim, in his New Year's Day address, had said North Korea's nuclear weapons can reach anywhere in the United States and said he had a nuclear button on his desk.

Trump's tweet was in response to Kim's comments in his annual New Year's Day address that "the entire mainland of the U.S.is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office".

US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Critics in South Korea have expressed concern that the North will use the Olympics as a way to skirt global sanctions and try to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

"If something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity, that would be a great thing for the world".

Seoul has reacted warmly to Kim's Olympic overture and the two Koreas this past week restored a cross-border hotline that had been shut down since 2016 and agreed to hold high-level talks next week - the first since 2015.

"This is going to be phases".

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