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Rare talks proposed by both North and South Korea might calm tensions between the neighbors, but don’t expect Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear arsenal any time soon, experts say.
Kim used his annual New Year’s Day message to suggest that his officials could meet their Seoul-based counterparts to discuss sending athletes to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.

Kim used his annual New Year’s Day message to suggest that his officials could meet their Seoul-based counterparts to discuss sending athletes to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.

South Korea responded Tuesday by proposing that talks could be held next week in the so-called truce village of Panmunjom, the only place in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas where soldiers from both countries are stationed.

After months of acrimony, Kim also opened a key cross-border communication channel with South Korea on Wednesday. South Korea later confirmed that the two Koreas held a 20-minute discussion, with liaison officials exchanging their names and examining the communication lines to make sure they were working.

These olive-branch overtures mark a significant milestone, according to analysts.

The Koreas officially remain at war, six decades after the Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty in 1953. Friction has built over the past year, fueled by the North’s nuclear and missile tests and apocalyptic rhetoric from Kim and President Donald Trump. Kim has repeatedly threatened to destroy the South along with the U.S., while Trump has threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury.”

Trump also boasted on Twitter Tuesday that he has a bigger and more powerful “nuclear button” than Kim does.

North Korea has stated that it wants an official end to the Korean War, full normalization of relations with the U.S. and to be treated as an equal in the global arena.

If a meeting does happen next week, it would be the first inter-Korea talks since 2015.

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