By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump said Saturday he hopes talks planned between North and South Korea extend beyond the Winter Games.
“I hope it works out. I very much want to see it work out between the two countries,” Trump said at the presidential retreat at Camp David. “I’d like to see them getting involved in the Olympics, and maybe things go from there. So I’m behind that one hundred percent.”
The high-level dialogue is scheduled to begin Tuesday following a slight improvement in relations that has also allowed for the reopening of an official hotline.
Trump claimed credit for the marginal advance, saying without his “tough stance” and heated rhetoric “they wouldn’t be talking about the Olympics, and they wouldn’t be talking right now.”
He said the U.S. would get involved "at the appropriate time."
North Korea had refused all attempts at dialogue by South Korean President Moon Jae-in since his inauguration last May, instead launching a series of ballistic missiles and conducting a sixth nuclear test.
But the subject of next week’s scheduled meeting will likely be limited to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s suggestion his country could take part in next month’s Games in South Korea.
“The priority is on North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games,” a ranking South Korean official was quoted by the Yonhap News Agency.
“I believe there will be discussions related to improving South-North ties after the North's participation in the Olympics is finalized,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Seoul has been keen to avoid any North Korean provocations immediately before or during the Games.
To reduce the risk of upsetting Pyongyang, South Korea and the United States agreed Thursday to put off joint military drills until after the Winter Paralympics in March.
Amid claims North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between the allies, South Korea’s government remains adamant it will continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. going forward.