Two Koreas begin rare talks at border
Senior officials from North and South Korea have begun their first formal talks in about two years to discuss how to cooperate in next month's Winter Olympics in the South and how to improve their long-strained ties.
The talks in the border village of Panmunjom were arranged after North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un recently made an abrupt push for improved ties with South Korea and are closely watched by the outside world after a year of elevated tensions over North Korea's expanding nuclear and missile programs.
"I think we should be engaged in these talks with an earnest, sincere manner to give a New Year's first gift - precious results (of the talks) to the Korean nation," chief North Korean delegate Ri Son Gwon said at the start of the negotiations.Seoul seeks to reduce military tensions
Critics of the meeting say Kim may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington to weaken international pressure and sanctions, which were toughened after his country conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles.
President Donald Trump had expressed hope for some progress from the talks and said he was open to talking with Kim himself. But UN Ambassador Nikki Haley later said the US administration isn't changing its conditions regarding talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a "significant amount of time".
South Korean officials said they would focus first on Olympic cooperation before dealing with tougher political and military issues.What is behind the covert Israeli-Saudi relations?