N. Korea 'very willing' to hold talks with US, says South Korea

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North Korea is "very willing" to hold talks with the US, its delegation to the Winter Olympics closing ceremony said yesterday, according to Seoul's presidential Blue House.

In a meeting with the South's President Moon Jae-in, the North's delegation "agreed that inter-Korea talks and North-US relations should improve together", the Blue House said in a statement.


Pyongyang has frequently said it is willing to talk without preconditions, but Washington says it must first take concrete steps towards denuclearisation.

The eight-member delegation, led by General Kim Yong Chol, crossed the Demilitarised Zone yesterday morning.

But the visit by Gen Kim, accused of masterminding past attacks on the South, has sparked angry protests from conservatives.

His nomination as leader of the visiting delegation is controversial in the South, where he is blamed for attacks including the torpedoing of Seoul's Cheonan warship in 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. Pyongyang denies responsibility.

Conservative lawmakers and hundreds of activists staged an overnight protest near the border with the North.

They waved banners, some saying "Arrest Kim Yong Chol!" and "Kim Yong Chol should kneel in front of the victims' families and apologise!"

Gen Kim is blacklisted under Seoul's unilateral sanctions against the North, meaning he is subject to an assets freeze.

Officials from both Seoul and Washington also said there will be no meeting between Kim Yong Chol and Ms Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US president, who is travelling with Korea specialists from the US administration.- AFP, REUTERS