As Koreas agree to talk, China ups pressure on the North

Trump with South Korean President Moon Jae-In. Cheriss May  Nur

Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said North Korea had accepted Seoul's offer to meet at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss how to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics and how to improve overall ties.

Analysts with the website 38 North, which tracks North Korea, reported Pyongyang may be preparing to test a rocket engine at a facility in Sohae, North Pyongan province, where all of the North's satellite launches have taken place since 2012.

On Thursday, South Korea tried to call first, at 9 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET).

Mr Trump consulted with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the matter, according to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning.

North Korea's call came half an hour later. South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. Imports of North Korean food, machinery and some other goods are banned. "If there is something to notify, we will contact you", the North Korean official added.

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Despite sudden progress toward such talks in recent days, President Trump appeared this week to mock North Korea's leader by tweeting that he has a "bigger and more powerful" nuclear button than dictator Kim Jong-un. The green watch above the screen shows the time in South Korea and the red the time in Pyongyang.

During the talks, the two presidents agreed not to carry out the springtime South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises, codenamed "Key Resolve and Foal Eagle", during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. North Korea has yet to respond to the invitation, despite Kim showing interest in dispatching a delegation to the games in a statement issued by the country's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification on Wednesday. Foal Eagle is a series of exercises created to test the readiness of the US and South Korean militaries.

"And I truly do believe that making it clear that all options are on the table; that, as the president has done, making it clear the United States of America has the capacity to defend our people far beyond anything North Korea could imagine; but also making it clear that if North Korea will abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, if they will dismantle those programs, there's an opportunity for a peaceable solution", he said.

In an interview with United States broadcaster Voice of America, Pence said the president's leadership on the world stage has resulted in "measurable progress", especially on the issue of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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