Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

S. Korean president's special envoys return from DPRK

S. Korean president's special envoys return from DPRK S. Korean president's special envoys return from DPRK
Theresa Hayes | 06 March, 2018, 16:57

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with government officials from the South on Monday, and suggested a summit with President Moon Jae In in the future to progress his "firm will to vigorously advance" inter-Korean ties and pursue reunification, the North's official news agency said.

South Korea's president will send a delegation led by his national security director to North Korea this week for talks on how to ease nuclear tensions and help arrange the restart of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, officials said Sunday.

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to hold a summit of their leaders late next month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in's top security adviser said Tuesday on the outcome of his trip to the communist North.

It also insists that any talks with Washington would have to deal not only with its nuclear program but also with "hostile" USA policies, like the United States' annual joint military exercises with the South, which the North says forced it to seek a nuclear deterrent in the first place.

Thawing relations between the Korean neighbours have prompted speculation about direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang after months of tension and exchanges of bellicose insults between Trump and Kim Jong Un fuelled fears of war.

The third inter-Korean summit between Moon and the North's reclusive leader Kim Jong-un will be held at the joint security area of Panmunjeom, Chung Eui-yong told a press briefing.

"Kim Eui-Kyeom, a spokesperson for the South's presidential office said", Seoul's delegation met Kim Jong Un, his sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's wife and other officials on Monday".

Though Chung is officially leading the delegation, the attendance of South Korea's spy chief, Suh Hoon, could signal that the two sides are laying the groundwork for Moon to eventually meet with Kim in person.

The meeting "shows Kim Jong Un wants to achieve his inter-Korean objectives laid out in his New Year's Day address", said Duyeon Kim, visiting senior research fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul. However, experts say it could be hard for the South to arrange a summit with the North coming off a year in which Pyongyang test-fired dozens of missiles and conducted its most powerful nuclear test.

Both North Korea and the United States have said they are open to talks but the USA position has been that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea's denuclearisation, something Pyongyang has rejected. Before leaving for Pyongyang on Monday, Chung said in a press conference that it was his mission to deliver Moon's message of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and persuade Pyongyang to start talks with Washington and the worldwide community. They are scheduled to return to the South on Tuesday.

North Korea appears to have changed its tone after repeatedly declaring its nuclear arsenal nonnegotiable and reserving the right to attack United States forces stationed in South Korea.

He also cited the North as saying it would not carry out nuclear or missile tests while talks with the United States were ongoing. The building is considered a key target of any US military strike that could be planned.

This move, too, is a great signal of the North Korean leader's personal commitment to South Korea's effort to communicate with him. The North's state media earlier confirmed their arrival.