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No one replied, but South Korean officials realized the working day may not have begun as North Korean time has run 30 minutes behind Seoul since Pyongyang created a different time zone in August 2015.

In a New Year's Day speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that Pyongyang possessed weapons capable of striking the mainland USA and insisted that the world would have to accept his country as a nuclear-armed state.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed not to conduct the joint war games between Seoul and Washington during the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympic Games slated to kick off in February, Moon's office said Thursday. This time, South Korea asked whether they had any news.

"With all of the failed "experts" weighing in, 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. Fools, but talks are a good thing!" he said on Twitter.

North and South Korean officials will meet next week for the first formal talks more than two years, a sign that the two countries may be moving toward a possible thaw in their relations.

Analysts with the website 38 North, which tracks North Korea, reported Pyongyang may be preparing to test a rocket engine at a facility in Sohae, North Pyongan province, where all of the North's satellite launches have taken place since 2012.

The United States must avoid meddling in exploratory talks between senior North and South Korean officials to allow the parties to make progress towards a settlement, former Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong told Sputnik.

What the neighbors had to say to each other may disappoint those who looked at this moment as a turning point for the countries, which had not had any direct contact in almost two years since relations broke down over the North's missile and nuclear tests and the South's decision to close down the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex.

The drills, relatively common between the two countries' armed forces, have repeatedly angered North Korea, which seems them as an act of aggression.

Commercial satellite imagery from December 25 showed a rail-mounted environment shelter had been moved away from a test stand, indicating that an engine test may be in the near future, the website said, rather than a new rocket launch suspected in recent media reports.