North Korean diplomats fear war with US

South Korea's Presidential Blue House said both men had said the dialogue "could naturally lead to talks between the United States and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics".

The IOC said the meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne would take a series of "essential decisions" on the North's participation at the Games.

Following the first inter-Korean talks this week in more than two years, the two sides had agreed to hold talks on Jan. 20, hosted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"The South also delivered a document presenting its position regarding the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics and matters on cultural events", the ministry added.

An official of the ministry made the comment Friday in response to a reporter's question about when it will make an official proposal for military talks with the North. The official said the military talks are focused on necessary measures to ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In April last year, South Korea, coached by former Canadian star Sarah Murray, defeated North Korea 3-0 at the IIHF Women's World Championship Division II Group A tournament in Gangneung, the host city for all hockey games during PyeongChang 2018.

The Koreas' separation makes citizens of the North an object of some fascination for South Koreans.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed signs that China, North Korea's main economic partner, was "sharply reducing" trade with its neighbor.

But some analysts now say that despite the hermit state's achievements and the defiance of its propaganda, Trump's chest-thumping provoked real fears within the North's elites, pushing them to seek ways to dial down tension.

That's according to a State Department statement after rare talks Tuesday between the two Koreas.

"The purpose of it shouldn´t be talks for the sake of talks", he told a news conference, while warning that Pyongyang would face stronger sanctions if "provocations" continued.

North Korea ramped up missile launches last year and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, prompting a U.S. -led campaign to impose some of the strongest international sanctions yet, which Pyongyang dubbed an "act of war".

North Korean diplomats are extremely serious about the possibility of war between North Korea and the United States, noting that the U.S. has already prepared for it for months, a Russian expert said Wednesday.

One official said the North-South talks were likely to follow the pattern of past diplomatic efforts, in which North Korea has benefited from aid without making concessions. "It will fulfil our desires for a peace Olympics".

The two teams marched behind the unification flag when they entered the stadiums together for the opening ceremonies of the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and the 2006 Winter Games.

North Korean IOC member Chang Ung spent four hours at the IOC building on Wednesday, Reuters witnesses said.

  • Leon Brazil