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Talks between North Korea, South Korea begin in border town of Panmunjom

January 09, 5:25 UTC+3 SEOUL

Earlier Kim Jong-un ordered to create conditions for an improvement in relations between the two states

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© AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

SEOUL, January 9. /TASS/. The first round of talks on normalizing relations between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK began on Tuesday morning in the border township of Panmunjom, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

The main issue on discussion at this round of discussions, the first one since December 2015, centers around the practical steps towards improving relations between Seoul and Pyongyang and a possible participation of the DPRK team in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

Each country has sent a five-strong delegation. Standing at the head of the South Korean delegation is Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of the Committee for Reunification of the Fatherland, leads the North Korean delegation.

DPRK leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year address to the nation the North Korean authorities were prepared to send a team of athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. South Korean President Moon Jae-in responded to it by instructing his government to begin talks with the North on a possible participation in the Games.

On Sunday, January 7, Kim Jong-un made an address to the nation where he ordered to create every condition conducive to an improvement of relations with the Republic of Korea.

"The head of state said in clear terms this country should abide by a policy that would produce a breakthrough in the sphere of reunification," the official Korean Central News Agency said. It indicated that raking up the past or over-focusing of the specificity of relations with Seoul was out of place.

Instead, it is important to improve relations between North and South, the KCNA said.

The commentary said it was high time for pooling the efforts of the entire Korean people to abate the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, adding that the case in hand was the normalization of inter-Korean relations and, on top of that, reconciliation and voluntary reunification of the Koreans.

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