North and South Korea to hold first official talks since 2015

North Korea reportedly hit one of its own cities during a botched ballistic missile test last year

North and South Korea to hold first official talks since 2015

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers his New Year's speech at an undisclosed place in North Korea, 01-01-2018. Image: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Official talks between North and South Korea will be held next week for the first time in over two years.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said the North sent its consent for the talks to take place this morning - hours after US and South Korea delayed their annual large-scale military exercises on the peninsula.

The last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015.

The meeting is set to take place next Tuesday at the border truce village of Panmunjom. Officials are expected to discuss next month's Winter Olympics which will be held in South Korea.

The annual military exercises have been delayed until after the games.

In a Tweet, US President Donald Trump said the talks were a "good thing" and claimed credit for the step.

Botched test

Meanwhile, it has emerged that North Korea hit one of its own cities during a botched ballistic missile test last year, according to a report.

A Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile was launched from North Korea's Pukchang Airfield on 28 April.

It flew around 24 miles to the northeast before failing and coming down on the city of Tokchon, according to news website The Diplomat.

The missile struck a complex of industrial or agricultural facilities in the city, which is about two hours from the North Korean capital.

Citing satellite imagery, The Diplomat said there were also residential and commercial buildings nearby and people in them would likely have heard the explosion.

It was not known if there were casualties.

The city has a population of around 200,000.

Images from the area show ground disturbances where there had previously been a building with fencing.

US officials had said the missile was initially thought to have disintegrated mid-flight after it was fired.

Nuclear capability

The US and other countries have been struggling to deter North Korea leader Kim Jong Un from pursuing nuclear capabilities.

Earlier in the week, North Korea and South Korea reopened a long-closed border hotline, hours after US president Donald Trump boasted that his nuclear launch button was "bigger and more powerful" than Mr Kim's.

The North and South have also announced talks planned for 9th January.

General Vincent K Brooks, lead commander of the US Forces in Korea, said the US and South Korea must maintain an "ironclad and razor sharp" alliance and be ready if talks between the two Koreas lead to a "negative outcome."

President Trump has repeatedly described the North Korean leader as "Little Rocket Man" while Mr Kim has called President Trump a "dotard," among many insults traded between the two.

They have also both threatened to destroy the other, causing growing alarm worldwide.

With reporting from IRN ...