North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discussed a possible inter-Korean summit with the envoys of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang, the two sides announced on Tuesday, a new illustration of the beginning of relaxation on the peninsula.
Diplomats who traveled to the North Korean capital on Monday are the southern leaders to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in more than 10 years, a journey that follows a remarkable rapprochement with Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
The North Korean official KCNA – Korean Central News Agency announced that Kim had “warmly welcomed” the South Koreans, who handed him a letter from Mr. Moon. “After hearing the special envoy about President Moon Jae-In’s intentions regarding the summit, he had an exchange of views (with them) and gave his approval”.
But Seoul hastened to say that no agreement had been reached for a summit that would be a first since 2007. “It’s not an agreement, it’s discussions.” he said. AFP an official of the Blue House, the South Korean presidency, adding that the two sides had “somehow exchanged” on other points.
The talks between Kim and the South Korean envoys lasted more than four hours, including a dinner at the Workers Party headquarters in Pyongyang. The details of this visit will be made public Tuesday after the return of the delegation, said the South.
The Olympics, which ended on February 25th, brought a remarkable rapprochement between North and South after two years of intense tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs.
The highlight of the North Korean charm offensive was the arrival of Kim Yo Jong to the south , marking the first visit of a member of the ruling Pyongyang dynasty since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Moon has sought to use the Olympics to open the dialogue between North and Washington in the hope of easing tensions over nuclear energy. Upon his arrival, Kim Yo Jong handed Mr. Moon, an invitation from his brother, to attend a summit in Pyongyang.
Washington demands denuclearization of North Korea
The South Korean president however refrained from answering immediately, explaining that it was first necessary to put in place the right “conditions” for dialogue.
Ignoring many sanctions, the North last year conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date and increased the number of missile attacks, some of which are capable of firing nuclear weapons in the continental United States.
The climate has also been poisoned by exchanges of personal insults and apocalyptic threats between US President Donald Trump and Mr Kim. A “little rocket man” by praising the size of his nuclear button, the North Korean leader treating the occupier of the White House as “mentally ill”.
If North Korea says it is ready to discuss with the United States without preconditions, it also argues that it will not give up its nuclear weapons that it has, she said, to repel the American threat. Washington, for its part, demands concrete steps towards denuclearization as a precondition for any negotiation.
South Korean envoys to Washington Wednesday
It is unclear whether the inter-Korean talks in Pyongyang focused on denuclearization on Monday. “I can imagine,” Yonhap told a senior official of the Blue House.
The South Korean delegation includes Suh Hoon, head of the South Korean Intelligence Service (NIS), and Seoul Deputy Minister of Unification Chun Hae-sung, whose ministry deals with inter-Korean affairs.
The South Korean envoys are expected to leave for Washington Wednesday to report on this trip. The United States has imposed new unilateral sanctions in the North, the hardest to date according to President Donald Trump.