President Moon Jae-in (third from left) shakes hands with Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the North Korean Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, at the Closing Ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Province, on Feb. 25. (Cheong Wa Dae Facebook)

By Xu Aiying and Yoon Jihye

A delegation from North Korea, led by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, has expressed its willingness to hold talks with the U.S. to improve the relationship between the South and the North and to discuss the state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula. It was speaking to President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Feb. 25.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a written briefing that the Northern delegation that was visiting South Korea to attend the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Games talked about potential bilateral talks with the U.S. during its meeting with President Moon.

President Moon highly praised the North for sending a delegation to both the Opening and Closing ceremonies, helping to achieve “Olympics of Peace.” He mentioned the joint women’s ice hockey team and the joint marching of the North and South Korean athletes, and said, “Such endeavors by the two Koreas made the PyeongChang Games truly ‘Olympics of Peace.'”

President Moon stressed that, “North-South dialogue should be expanded and developed extensively. Talks between the U.S. and North Korea should be held as soon as possible as a way to improve the relationship between the two Koreas and to fundamentally settle issues on the Korean Peninsula.”

Spokesperson Kim said that the Northern delegation relayed Kim Jong-un’s willingness, and said that, “The delegation expressed enough willingness to have talks with the U.S. and has agreed to the idea that the relationship between the North and the South and between the U.S and the North could advance together.”