09:51 GMT25 June 2021
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    Seoul is proposing to hold high-level talks on January 9 with Pyongyang at the demilitarized zone between the two countries, South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said Tuesday.

    The minister suggested holding talks at the Panmunjom village after the North Korean President, Kim Jong Un, expressed hopes that the country's athletes would take part in the upcoming Olympic Games set to take place in South Korea.

    "We are expecting the South and the North to be able to discuss the participation of the North Korean side in the Olympics in Pyeongchang as well as other topical issues regarding the improvement of the relations between the South and the North," the minister said.

    The move has been welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has expressed willingness to allow the participation of North Korean athletes in the event.

    READ MORE: Olive Branch? Kim Jong-un Ready to Dispatch Athletes to S Korean Olympics

    The negotiations may take place amid reports by Japan's Kyodo News Agency, claiming that Tokyo was considering four possible military scenarios on the Korean Peninsula, including hostilities between the armed forces of North Korea and South Korea, a US preemptive strike on the DPRK, a South Korean invasion of the DPRK and a North Korean missile strike on Japan.

    The situation on the Korean Peninsula has further escalated over the last year after Pyongyang carried out a number of missile launches and conducted a nuclear test in early September.

    READ MORE: 'Established Fact': Pyongyang Warns of Looming War on Korean Peninsula

    These actions have incited harsh criticism from the global community, which is seeking to put pressure on Pyongyang through international sanctions.

    Reacting to the recent UN sanctions imposed on the country, in particular, limitations of oil imports to Pyongyang, North Korea has called them "an act of war," with the US repeatedly saying that it does rule out the possibility of a military solution to the issue.

    READ MORE: No Side to Benefit From Nuclear War on Korean Peninsula — Beijing

    A peaceful solution to the issue, the so-called, double-freeze plan, has been suggested by Russia and China, which urged Pyongyang to declare a moratorium on nuclear tests and missile launches and called on South Korea and the US to abstain from carrying out joint drills, in order to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

    However, Washington has refused this initiative.

    negotiations, 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea
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