North Korea agrees to talks after US, South Korea postpone military drills

South Korea Unification Ministry  Yonhap via AP

Pyongyang did not say whether it would accept the South Korean offer for talks.

North Korea has called South Korea three times within the 24 hours since leader Kim Jong Un ordered the reopening of the hotline between the two countries.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed not to conduct the joint war games between Seoul and Washington during the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympic Games slated to kick off in February, Moon's office said Thursday. South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

A South Korean government official checks the direct communications hotline to talk with the North Korean side at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, January 3.

In a tweet, Trump, who hurled fresh insults at the North Korean leader this week, took credit for any dialogue that takes place.

A visitor takes picture in front of ribbons wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas.

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Pyongyang has long viewed such drills as practice for an invasion of North Korea.

Reuters reported that it was active Wednesday, with officials from the North placing a call to the South.

The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North's push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, but the US and its allies are making it clear that while the military drills are on hold, pressure on North Korea won't let up.

North and South Korean officials will meet next week for the first formal talks more than two years, a sign that the two countries may be moving toward a possible thaw in their relations.

"And I truly do believe that making it clear that all options are on the table; that, as the president has done, making it clear the United States of America has the capacity to defend our people far beyond anything North Korea could imagine; but also making it clear that if North Korea will abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, if they will dismantle those programs, there's an opportunity for a peaceable solution", he said.

Commercial satellite imagery from December 25 showed a rail-mounted environment shelter had been moved away from a test stand, indicating that an engine test may be in the near future, the website said, rather than a new rocket launch suspected in recent media reports.

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