North Korea said Wednesday it will reopen a hotline with the South to discuss attending the Winter Olympics, forging ahead with peace overtures despite taunts from US President Donald Trump who said he has a “much bigger” nuclear button than Kim Jong-Un.
The hotline, which was cut by the North in 2016, is to be restored at 0630 GMT after Seoul proposed high-level talks in response to an olive branch from the North’s leader ahead of next month’s Pyeongchang Games.
Kim’s overtures to the South marked a rare softening in tone, as tensions over its banned weapons program have surged in recent months following a flurry of missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test yet.
Seoul responded with an offer to hold talks on January 9 — the first since 2015 — to discuss “matters of mutual interest” including Kim’s suggestion that the reclusive nation could participate in the Olympics.
But Kim’s New Year address also included a warning to the US that he has a “nuclear button” on his table, prompting a furious response from President Trump via Twitter.
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’
“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” he said.
Trump’s remarks came as his ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed Seoul’s offer to hold talks, calling it a “band-aid”.
US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert also warned that Kim “may be trying to drive a wedge of some sort between the two nations — between our nation and the Republic of Korea”.