South Korean President Moon Jae-in said yesterday the United States and North Korea should both give ground so they can sit down to talks to try to resolve a nuclear standoff, a day after Pyongyang expressed willingness for dialogue.
South Korea has engaged in a flurry of talks with North Korean officials since January, hoping to improve relations with the South's just concluded Winter Olympics as a catalyst for rapprochement.
North Korea is developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the US mainland and US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged increasingly bellicose taunts before a sudden puncturing of tensions coinciding with the Games, with the North sending athletes and delegates.
"Recently, North Korea has shown it is open to actively engaging the United States in talks and the United States is talking about the importance of dialogue," Moon said during a meeting in Seoul with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.
"There is a need for the United States to lower the threshold for talks with North Korea and North Korea should show it is willing to denuclearise. It's important the United States and North Korea sit down together quickly," he said, according to a statement from his office.
The North Korean delegation, led by former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, met Chung Eui-yong, security adviser for the presidential Blue House, and other South Korean government officials for lunch yesterday.
Hundreds of right-wing protesters gathered in central Seoul yesterday to criticise Moon and his administration for hosting the North Koreans, Kim Yong Chol in particular.
His visit has enraged families of the sailors who were killed in the torpedo attack. The South Korean government said it had approved the delegation as it pursues peace on the peninsula.
Kim Yong Chol and his delegation will leave today.