North Korea agrees to talks after US, South Korea postpone military drills

To change North Korea, choose soft power instead: Mitch Lerner (Opinion)

The annual war games, which tended to kick off in mid-March and last by the end of April, could coincide with the 2018 Winter Olympics scheduled to run from February 9 to February 25 and the Winter Paralympic Games from March 9 to March 18.

Mattis cited the wide array of logistics and transportation support required to conduct the Olympics, some of which would otherwise be tied up with military exercises. "Those talks are clearly the result of the amount of global pressure (on North Korea), and they are a way for North Korea to start talking while keeping it contained to a benign issue". Both North Korea and the USA have continued to threaten each other, with Kim Jong Un ramping up production of nuclear warheads and Trump vowing to keep up his pressure campaign.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its two key Asia allies, Japan and South Korea, and says its weapons are necessary to counter USA aggression. He said there can be little doubt that global pressure, including sanctions ordered by the U.N. Security Council, is having some effect on Kim's calculations.

Trump, who has exchanged a series of threats and insults with the Pyongyang regime since a year ago, tweeted late Tuesday that he, too, has a "nuclear button" that is "much bigger and more powerful" than the one North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has. Last year, he ridiculed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for talking about negotiations with the North.

"The fact that South Korea wants to talk to North Korea, hopefully with China chairing the meeting, is a good sign", Armstrong added. No one replied, but South Korean officials realized the working day may not have begun as North Korean time has run 30 minutes behind Seoul since Pyongyang created a different time zone in August 2015.

But Kim remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying the North would mass-produce nuclear missiles for operational deployment and warned he would launch a nuclear strike if his country was threatened.

The move comes after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said there is evidence that North Korea is testing yet another nuclear weapon, once again in violation of UN sanctions.

Trump, who hurled fresh insults at the North Korean leader this week, took credit for any dialogue that takes place.

Trump mocked that assertion Tuesday evening, tweeting: "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!"