North Korean officials have invited their South Korean counterparts to the two nations’ first official talks in more than a decade, according to news reports.
Reuters reported Saturday that newfound cooperation between the two countries, which do not currently have a diplomatic relationship, began as a result of the South’s willingness to allow the North to participate in the Olympic Games activities currently being hosted in South Korea.
“We would like to see you at an early date in Pyongyang,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister reportedly said in a message delivered to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Reuters also reports that Moon has “practically accepted” the offer, and the two countries will soon begin planning logistics.
Korea experts called the surprise move by North Korea an attempt to divide South Korea from the United States, which sent a delegation to the games led by Vice President Mike Pence.
“This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States,” South Korea’s former vice foreign minister Kim Sung-han told the news service.
North Korean officials refused to meet with any U.S. representatives after months of tensions between the two countries over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
On Wednesday, Pence announced the “toughest” round of sanctions yet targeting North Korea at a news conference alongside Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“I’m announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,” Pence said.
“We will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.”