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Globe editorial: On the Korean peninsula, a moment of hope

There are all kinds of reasons to be skeptical about why North Korea has agreed to take part in the Olympic Winter Games in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang next month.

The last-minute agreement was brokered Tuesday; it comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surprised the world on New Year's Day by saying he was open to South Korea's invitation to send athletes and a delegation to the Games.

Mr. Kim is clearly on a charm offensive after a year of atomic saber-rattling that has left his country isolated and suffering under the impact of international sanctions.

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He is also no doubt trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, which under President Donald Trump has warned it will attack North Korea, perhaps even pre-emptively, if Mr. Kim continues to develop long-range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

South Korea would prefer a diplomatic solution and less American rhetoric. It also wants to host the Olympics without having to worry about Mr. Kim firing an ill-timed test missile and setting off a crisis mid-Games. It is susceptible to Mr. Kim's overtures, and he knows it.

So, yes, it's wise to cock an eyebrow about this or any development involving North Korea. But on the theory that talking is always better than not talking, this is positive.

Using the Games to restart a dialogue between North and South Korea is a smart move that will be applauded internationally. Even if Mr. Kim is working the angles, his initiative could take on a life of its own and lead to a real and long-term thaw. After a year of fear, a moment of hope.

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