North Korea to abandon nukes - Soul says

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South Korea's chief special envoy also relayed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's readiness to hold openhearted nuclear talks with the United States.

North Korea said there was no need to keep its nuclear program as long as there was no military threat against it and the safety of its regime was secured, the head of the delegation, Chung Eui-yong, told a media briefing. As would become a pattern, Pyongyang offers to curtail its work in exchange for aid while also citing concerns about hostile action from the United States. The Pentagon has nevertheless said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the North-South talks, which resumed in January for the first time in two years.

He said "the world is watching and waiting" and while it may be "false hope", the "ready to go hard in either direction!"

The US request at the United Nations coincides with President Donald Trump's announcement last month of the "heaviest sanctions ever" on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

But the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South triggered an apparent transformation, with Kim sending his sister to the opening ceremony, sparking a flurry of cross-border trips as South Korean President Moon Jae-in tries to broker talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

After Seoul, the South Korean delegation will visit the United States to brief USA officials on the outcomes of their trip to North Korea.

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A South Korean delegation arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday, and members were said to have had dinner and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The South Korean official said representatives from the two countries would meet to plan the summit. The last inter-Korean summit was in 2007 when late former president Roh Moo-hyun was in office. "But context and timing matters, and this opens up the opportunity for more diplomacy", said John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Relations in Seoul.

The White House has previously ruled out direct talks with North Korea unless it fully commits to abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

In January 2003, North Korea's Kim Jong Il, father of Kim Jong Un, announces Pyongyang will withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty it had agreed to in 1985.

"It could be that "maximum pressure" is working and [Kim] wants to loosen sanctions, there might be domestic drivers, there could be rumblings among the elite", she said.

Last month, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, "the worldwide community broadly agree that denuclearization must be the result of any dialogue with North Korea". It's not clear whether Tuesday's developments will alter that.

The U.S. president has said he would hold talks with the North Koreans only if they agree to denuclearize. -South Korea military exercises that were postponed because of the Olympics but will likely happen in the spring.