However, Pyongyang said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons with Seoul because they were only aimed at the United States, not its “brethren” in South Korea, nor Russia or China, showing that a diplomatic breakthrough remained far off.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said all problems would be resolved through efforts by the Korean people alone.
“If the North and South abandon external forces and cooperate together, we will be able to fully solve all problems to match our people’s needs and our joint prosperity,” it said.
Washington still welcomed Tuesday’s talks as a first step toward solving the North Korean nuclear crisis. The U.S. State Department said it would be interested in joining future talks, with the aim of denuclearizing the North.
The United States, which still has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, initially responded coolly to the idea of inter-Korean meetings. Trump later called them “a good thing” and said he would be willing to speak to Kim.
Pyongyang also said it would send a large delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Washington agreed with Seoul last week to postpone joint military exercises that Pyongyang denounces as rehearsals for invasion until after the Olympics. However, it also said the apparent North-South thaw had not altered the U.S. intelligence assessment of North Korea’s weapons programs.
The United States has also warned that all options, including military, are on the table in dealing with the North.
“We cannot say talks are the sole answer,” Moon said. “If North Korea engages in provocations again or does not show sincerity in resolving this issue, the international community will continue applying strong pressure and sanctions.”