President Donald Trump is working to ensure that the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula does not escalate further, especially on the eve of the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.
Trump has told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that the U.S. would be open to talks with North Korea “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances,” the White House said Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Moon spoke to Trump on the phone following historic talks between North and South Korea on Tuesday – the first time delegates from the Koreas have talked in more than two years.
The White House also said Trump thanked Moon for his “leadership in making the talks possible,” Reuters reported.
North Korea this week agreed to send athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, as well as hold military talks, following the discussion that took place Tuesday in the “truce village” of Panmunjom in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.
Earlier on Tuesday, South Korea had said it would temporarily lift sanctions on North Korea so that they could participate in the Olympic Games. South Korea also proposed that North Korean athletes should march with South Korean athletes during the Winter Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.
Military talks on Tuesday were held “to ease the current military tensions between the two Koreas.”
Just last week, on Jan. 3, North Korea reopened a once dormant telephone hotline that links directly to South Korea, and the two countries spoke for 20 minutes, this in advance of the North-South Korean meeting that took place. Both North Korea and South Korea planned to re-open a second military hotline on the Korean peninsula.
On Jan. 4, following the opening of the hotline, President Trump and Moon agreed to delay scheduled joint military exercises during the Winter Olympics next month.
During a telephone conversation between Trump and Moon, the South Korean leader made the request to delay the drills.
“I believe it would greatly help ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games if you could express an intention to delay joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises during the Olympics in case the North does not make any more provocations,” Moon was quoted as telling Trump, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Trump and Moon agreed to “de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games,” the White House confirmed in a press release, Yonhap reported.
During the telephone call, Trump said he “hoped inter-Korean talks would lead to good results and that he would send a high-level delegation including members of his family to the Winter Olympics,” Reuters had reported.
“We will closely consult with the United States in the process of South-North Korea dialogue and we are confident that South-North Korea dialogue helps create an atmosphere for dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue,” Moon was quoted as saying, Yonhap reported.