Strong stance helps spur talks about North Korea

South Korea Unification Ministry  Yonhap via AP

South Korea Unification Ministry Yonhap via AP

Moon and Trump had a telephone conversation for about 30 minutes earlier in the day, discussing issues of mutual concern relating to the possible inter-Korean talks created by taking the opportunity for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to the Blue House, the presidential palace.

He told reporters Friday that Japan would "take all steps necessary", including cooperating with China and Russian Federation, to step up pressure on North Korea so it will give up its nuclear weapons and missile development policies. The last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015.

In his New Year's address, Mr Kim threatened he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk and warned that "the whole territory of the United States is within the range of our nuclear strike".

President Donald Trump says his tough stance on nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula is helping push North Korea and South Korea to talk.

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The drills, relatively common between the two countries' armed forces, have repeatedly angered North Korea, which seems them as an act of aggression.

Mr Trump took credit for brokering the talks on Twitter, however.

The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North's push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, but the USA and its allies are making it clear that while the military drills are on hold, pressure on North Korea won't let up.

South Korea said it remains open to talking to the North, with which it technically remains at war as the 1953 Korean War armistice was never followed by a peace treaty, and officials have said they understand it may take some time for Pyongyang to review the proposal for talks.

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Earlier this week, Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said Washington had heard reports that Pyongyang might be preparing to fire another missile.

Analysts with the website 38 North, which tracks North Korea, reported Pyongyang may be preparing to test a rocket engine at a facility in Sohae, North Pyongan province, where all of the North's satellite launches have taken place since 2012.

Mr. Trump's tweet on Tuesday evening came in response to Mr. Kim's New Year's address, in which the North Korean repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States and claimed to have a "nuclear button" on his own office desk.

Commercial satellite imagery from December 25 showed a rail-mounted environment shelter had been moved away from a test stand, indicating that an engine test may be in the near future, the website said, rather than a new rocket launch suspected in recent media reports.

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