Trump tells Gridiron: North Korea 'called up' and 'would like to talk'

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"Especially, (the delegation) will hold discussions on the creation of conditions for North Korea-United States dialogue aimed at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Yoon added in comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.

It was unclear if Trump was joking or if formal US-North Korea talks were imminent. US officials dispute the claim but acknowledge that North Korea now possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles.

He chose five senior officials - including national security advisor Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon - to visit Pyongyang on Monday, Moon's spokesman said.

They'll most likely be the first South Korean envoys to meet Kim, and they'll also be the first South Korean diplomats to visit the North since 2008, when South Korea elected a president who was harsher on the Kim regime's weapons program.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a decision to send his special envoys to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on March 5, after top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's dispatch of a special delegation to South Korea last month. It also insists that any talks with Washington will have to deal not only with its nuclear program, but also with what it calls hostile American policies, such as joint military exercises with the South, which it says drove it to seek a nuclear deterrent in the first place.

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"We will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the USA", a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman told the KCNA.

"At times when North and South Korea were on a serious military standoff and had built no trust between each other", said a South Korean government official, "the chief executives' opinions used to hold the ultimate say on resolving various issues".

When Tillerson announced in December that the U.S.is ready to engage the North Koreans in talks without preconditions, the White House contradicted him, stressing that the U.S.is not ready. But the North Koreans pulled out of the planned session before it could happen. "I just won't", he said, referring to North Korea's leader.

Despite the relatively peaceful atmosphere between South and North Korea, Pyongyang appears to have continued making progress on its nuclear ballistic missiles during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, CNN reported Saturday.

Signs of a North-South thaw have prompted speculation that it could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang after months of tension and exchanges of insults between Trump and Kim, that have fuelled fears of war.

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