N. Korea Willing to Hold Denuclearization Talks

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North Korea has not carried out any weapons tests since late November, when it tested its largest intercontinental ballistic missile. "The World is watching and waiting!"

South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said Pyongyang was open to discuss getting rid of its nuclear program with the United States in exchange for security guarantees.

After returning from the United States, the South Korean officials will split up and Chung will visit China and Russian Federation, while Suh will head to Japan to speak to officials in the respective countries on the latest detente with North Korea.

While arguing it is worth testing the waters to see if North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear program, and to glean intelligence from dealing with the secretive nation's officials, they see virtually no chance Pyongyang will actually do so.

Tensions rose to the highest level in years over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with shrill, bellicose rhetoric coming from both Kim Jong Un and Trump.

North Korea is likely to make demands that the United States would find anathema following Pyongyang's reported statement that it has no need for a nuclear program "if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure", former USA officials said.

South Korea said North Korea had offered to put its nuclear ambitions on hold, with a possibility of giving up its arsenal entirely, if the USA agrees to enter a negotiation.

"The drills had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. S.is ready to go hard in either direction!", Trump wrote on Twitter. May be false hope, but the U.

Nevertheless, said Chris Hill, the key USA negotiator with North Korea from 2005 to 2009, it is important for the Americans not to look stubborn or churlish about the prospects.

The White House has not formally commented on Tuesday's announcements.

In 2007, a new deal was struck under which North Korea would get a million tons of heavy fuel oil in return for steps to shut down and seal its main Yongbyon nuclear plant that produces weapons-grade plutonium and to invite inspectors to oversee them. Chung said on Tuesday he had a message from Kim Jong Un he will relay to US officials.

Another driver for Pyongyang's willingness to come to the negotiating table seems to be the recent round of sanctions imposed by the United States.

"(China) can do more but I think they've done more than they've ever done for our country before", he said.

In addition, the nuclear weapons could be said to be Kim's personal pride as he has celebrated and showcased various technical milestones through parades, the promotion of the scientists and technicians, and photographs and media statements. It reinforces the Kim regime's legitimacy and authority at home, creates an insurance policy for his survival and gives Pyongyang a potent chess piece in its goal of reunifying with South Korea.