South Korea said Friday that both Koreas had agreed to hold their first talks in more than two years on Tuesday. 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.
The announcement came hours after the United States said it had agreed to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the Winter Olympics. The Games are to be held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.
The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North's push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, but the U.S. and its allies are making it clear that while the military drills are on hold,.
A Japanese government spokesman said Japan would do what's necessary to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang to give up its weapons programs.
Spokesman Yoshihide Suga stressed that Japan was in close contact with the U.S. and South Korea on the latest developments after the Koreas agreed to hold talks next week.
He told reporters Friday that Japan would "take all steps necessary," including cooperating with China and Russia, to step up pressure on North Korea so it will give up its nuclear weapons and missile development policies.
China, meanwhile, announced that it was tightening restrictions on trade with North Korea under U.N. nuclear sanctions, imposing a cap on oil supplies to the North and banning imports of its steel and other goods.
The measures announced late Friday followfollowing the North's ballistic missile test on Nov. 29.
The Commerce Ministry said Beijing would limit exports of crude oil and refined petroleum to the North and ban outright sales of steel and industrial machinery. Imports of North Korean food, machinery and some other goods are banned.
China is the North's main trading partner and energy supplier, making its enforcement critical to the success of sanctions.
On Thursday, President Trump took credit for the fact that North and South Korea were to hold their first direct talks in more than two years, asking rhetorically in a tweet: "Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn't firm, strong and willing to commit our total 'might' against the North?"