- Associated Press - Monday, January 8, 2018

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says North Korea has said it will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in the South.

The Koreas’ first talks in two years were arranged after North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un recently made an abrupt push for improved ties with South Korea after a year of elevated tensions with the outside world over his expanding nuclear and missile programs. Critics say Kim may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington in a bid to weaken international pressure and sanctions on the North.

“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, according to media footage from the venue. Ri wore a lapel pin with the images of Kim’s father and grandfather, late North Korean rulers Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.

Ri’s South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said he also hopes they would come up with a “good gift” that would satisfy Korean people’s wishes for better ties. “There is a saying ‘well begun is half done.’ I’d like us to have will and patience to resolve (issues) at the negotiation,” Cho said.

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