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South Korea Says North Open To Talks With U.S.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

South Korea said on February 25 that North Korea is willing to hold talks with the United States.

The statement by South Korean President Moon Jae-in's office came hours after Pyongyang condemned the latest U.S. sanctions targeting its regime, accusing Washington of trying to hamper an improvement in ties with Seoul during the Winter Olympics.

Ahead of the February 25 closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korean city of Pyeongchang, Moon met with the North Korean Olympic delegation led by General Kim Yong Chol.

Kim said in the meeting that Pyongyang "has enough intention to hold a North Korea-U.S. dialogue," the Yonhap news agency reported.

During the closing ceremony, Kim sat behind sat behind U.S. presidential adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump. The two did not appear to interact.

In a February 25 statement carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency earlier in the day, the country's foreign minister denounced new sanctions imposed on North Korea days earlier by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

The punitive measures are aimed at pressuring Pyongyang over its nuclear and weapons programs.

"The two Koreas have cooperated together and the Olympics were held successfully," KCNA cited the North Korean Foreign Ministry as saying.

"But the U.S. brought the threat of war to the Korean Peninsula with large-scale new sanctions on the DPRK ahead of the [February 25] Olympics closing ceremony," KCNA said, using an acronym for the reclusive authoritarian state's official name.

The new U.S. sanctions target more than 50 shipping companies, vessels, and firms linked to North Korea.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry said that a blockade would be considered an "act of war," according to KCNA.

North Korea has frequently said it is prepared to conduct negotiations with Washington without preconditions, though the United States says Pyongyang must first undertake concrete actions toward denuclearization.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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