03 January 2018
South Korea, eager to improve ties with the North after a year of tensions, has been quick to act on a rare overture by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by proposing a date for talks that could lead to the communist regime’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics.
Mr Kim, in a New Year’s speech, said he was willing to send a North Korean delegation to the Winter Games hosted by the South, adding that both sides could “urgently meet” for talks. In the same speech, Mr Kim had warned that he has a nuclear button on his desk.
The two-pronged approach is a “smart move” with carefully calibrated intentions, said Dr Graham Ong-Webb, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“Kim Jong Un is seeking to accrue diplomatic capital and goodwill amid the current climate of extreme tensions. North Korea knows that its political bank account is now zero, and any further testing at this lowest point risks an American military pre-emption,” he told The Straits Times. Sending a team to the Games and entering into talks with Seoul will “top up the bank account” and ease tensions, while at the same time give Pyongyang some space to conduct nuclear testing, he added.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 24/01/2018