The South Korean government has announced that a series of talks will be held with representatives of the oppressive North Korean regime, about the North’s possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The last minute negotiations come only a month before the PyeongChang 2018 games are scheduled to start on February 9, USA Today reported.
South Korean authorities hope the negotiations will dampen tensions over Pyongyang’s constant threats of nuclear war.
The meeting is scheduled to take place on January 9 at the village of Panmunjom, a town near the border with North Korea. The offer comes on the heels of a hint from North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, that he would be open to sending a delegation to the games.
South Korean Unification Minster Cho Myoung Gyon also reported that the White House has been kept closely informed about the possible meeting.
The White House, though, has stated in the past that the U.S. would not join talks with the North over participation in the Olympics unless the North turns away from its talk of nuclear war.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Kim Jong-un’s year-end speech as opening the door to “establish peace.” President Jae-in though did maintain that improved relations between South and North must be linked to a substantial drawback of the North’s nuclear bomb program.
Still, President Jae has seemed to impute unrealistic expectations into the effect the Olympics would have on the belligerence of the North.
“The doors to PyeongChang, the road to peace, are also open to North Korea,” the South Korean President said in an airy October speech to the general assembly of the National Unification Advisory Council (NUAC).
Jae-in seemed to expect that the Olympics could mark “progress” to stop the North’s nuclear missile tests. “The one step North Korea takes toward PyeongChang will mark a great progress toward peace that cannot be obtained even with hundreds of missiles,” Jae-in added.
“The most serious challenge and threat that lies before us now is North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles. But our principle of peaceful reunification also remains firm,” the left-wing South Korean leader continued.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.