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North, South Korea Reestablishing Military Contacts


South Korea Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon (left) shakes hands with North Korea's chief delegate, Ri Son Gwon during their meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on January 9.

North and South Korea have agreed to reopen dialogue between military officials in a bid to defuse tensions.

The breakthrough agreement came on January 9 during talks about North Korea's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics that South Korea will host in February -- the first direct talks between representatives of the two countries in two years.

In a joint statement following their meeting at a village in the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula, delegates from both sides said they had agreed to resolve their disputes through "dialogue and negotiations."

The joint statement also said the Winter Olympics would be attended by a North Korean delegation that includes members of the North's National Olympic Committee, athletes, cheerleaders, an art performers' squad, spectators, a taekwondo demonstration team, and journalists.

South Korea agree to provide "necessary amenities and facilities," the joint statement said.

Watched closely by world leaders, the meeting came after North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un pushed for improved ties following a year of heightened tensions over the North’s development of nuclear weapons and its intercontinental ballistic-missile program.

South Korea’s Deputy Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said Seoul had proposed that North Korea send a large delegation and take part in a joint march with South Korea during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Chun said South Korea also suggested resuming temporary reunions of families separated by war, and stressed the need to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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