South Korea will seek to use inter-Korean talks on Tuesday to decrease tensions on the peninsula and reunite families separated by the Korean war, Seoul has said.
Comments from Cho Myung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister, illustrate the broader possibilities of the negotiations with North Korea, which are set to focus on Pyongyang’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympic Games.
“Basically, the two sides will focus on the Olympics. When discussing inter-Korean relations, the government will seek to raise the issue of war-torn families and ways to ease military tensions,” Mr Cho said on Monday.
Mr Cho on Tuesday morning will lead a five-member delegation to talks with counterparts from Pyongyang in Panmunjom, a village inside the heavily fortified demilitarised zone that separates the two Koreas.
The talks will be first high-level dialogue since communications between the two sides were cut following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test two years ago.
North Korea’s delegation will be headed by Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the country’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification — the agency that oversees inter-Korean relations — and a veteran negotiator with Seoul.
率领朝鲜代表团的将是祖国和平统一委员会(Committee for Peaceful Reunification)委员长、经验丰富的对韩谈判代表李善权(Ri Son-gwon)。祖国和平统一委员会是朝鲜负责朝韩关系的机构。
Negotiations offer a potential pathway to peace on a peninsula that last year appeared poised to collapse into conflict.
Korea experts, however, have reacted cautiously, pointing to Pyongyang’s history of using talks to manipulate and misdirect its adversaries.
The talks also run the risk of driving a wedge between South Korea and the US, which has attempted to isolate and punish Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic weapons development.
US President Donald Trump over the weekend said he would be open to talks with Mr Kim, but did not clarify under which conditions.
上周末，美国总统唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)表示他对与金正恩(Kim Jong Un)会谈持开放态度，但他并未阐明谈判的条件。
Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University, believes the North is using the talks with Seoul as a stepping stone to reach Washington.
韩国庆南大学(Kyungnam University)教授林乙川(Lim Eul-chul)认为，朝鲜正把朝韩会谈当作接触美国的垫脚石。
“Despite their efforts, North Korea failed to have talks with the US last year due to the big difference in opinion between the two countries. Pyongyang now seems to be hoping the South Korean government can nudge the US into dialogue with them,” he said.