SEOUL, January 9. /TASS/. The head of the DPRK delegation to the talks on normalizing relations with the Republic of Korea, Ri Son Gwon said before the start of the meeting in the border township of Panmunjom he hoped the dialogue between the two Koreas would bring important results.
"Today, North and South Korea will engage in talks in a serious and sincere stance," said Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the DPRK Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, told reporters. "They will go well."
Cho Myoung-gyon, the South Korean Unification Minister who heads his country’s delegation to the talks, said the dialogue was taking place after a protracted cool-off in inter-Korean relations and the beginning already meant half the work done.
He expressed the hope the sides would conduct talks with resolve and persistence.
The main issue at this round of discussions, the first one since December 2015, centers on the practical steps towards improving relations between Seoul and Pyongyang and on a possible participation of the DPRK team in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Each country has sent a five-strong 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.