In order to prepare an inter-Korean summit scheduled for late April, South Korea on Wednesday proposed holding high-level talks with the North next week to discuss details including the summit's dates and agenda.
But the USA side's preparation for the high-stakes face-to-face encounter has been complicated by last week firing of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and a number of vacancies in key policy positions regarding East Asia.
After post-Olympics talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials said Kim indicated he would accept the maneuvers.
There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity across Asia, the United States and Europe since the North sent delegations to the Winter Olympics, moves that culminated in North Korea's planned summits with the South and with the United States.
It remains to be seen the extent to which Pyongyang is truly committed to denuclearization, despite South Korean officials conveying such a message from their conversation with Kim in Pyongyang two weeks ago.
Annual U.S. -South Korean military drills that infuriate North Korea will begin on April 1, the allies said today, but they will likely be more low-key than past years ahead of two highly anticipated summits among the countries' leaders.
It will be the first summit between the two nations in more than a decade.
They wowed the crowd at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with hits like "Peek-a-boo" and "Bad Boy", and soon the girls from K-pop group Red Velvet will be synchronizing their steps on a stage in the North Korean capital.
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He said that during their hoped-for meeting the two men would likely discuss Ukraine, Syria and North Korea, among other things. Two people familiar with the notecards acknowledged that they included instructions not to congratulate Putin.
The exercises, code-named Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, will involve some 23,000 U.S. troops and more than 300,000 South Korean troops.
North Korea has been notified of the schedule "as well as the defensive nature" of the exercises, the Pentagon said.
The exercises have historically angered North Korea, which has called them a prelude to a USA -led invasion.
"It was not easy to select songs that are wanted by both sides", Yoon Sang, South Korea's chief delegate to the talks, told a press briefing Tuesday. Kim also offered to meet personally with President Donald Trump to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons on unspecified terms, and Trump quickly agreed.
The two Koreas held working-level talks on Tuesday at the border village of Panmunjom over Seoul's plan to send an artistic troupe for a concert in Pyongyang.
Such an acknowledgement is in stark contrast to the regime's denunciations of the exercises in the past.
The joint drills ran from March 1-April 30 in 2017 and included the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.
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