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North Korea

Historic meeting: Kim Jong-un agrees to summit with South Korean president, after spending hours with Seoul’s envoys

North Korea says a ‘satisfactory agreement’ on the summit was reached at a Pyongyang dinner meeting between Kim and Moon Jae-in’s representatives

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 8:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 3:07pm

Kim Jong-un has agreed to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, after the North Korean leader spent more than four hours with Moon’s special envoys late Monday in an historic first meeting with officials from south of the border.

The envoys delivered Moon’s intention to hold the summit with Kim, who took power in late 2011, and the two Koreas made a “satisfactory agreement” on the proposal, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said. 

“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, he [Kim Jong-un] exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim “gave the important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps for it,” KCNA added, according to a translation by Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

The meeting at the headquarters of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang was also attended by Kim’s wife, sister and other North Korean officials.

The heads of South Korea’s security and intelligence services were in the North Korean capital to persuade Kim to start talks with the US on denuclearisation and stave off a potential conflict over his nuclear programme.

But Seoul later said no agreement had yet been reached on a meeting between Kim and Moon, which would be the first such summit since 2007.

“It’s not an agreement, it’s discussions,” an official from the South’s presidential Blue House said, adding that the two sides had “somewhat shared the view” on other points.

Kim’s talks with the South Koreans lasted more than four hours, and included dinner at the North’s ruling Workers Party headquarters in Pyongyang, according to the Blue House.

Details would be made public after the delegation returns late Tuesday, it said.

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The South Korean envoys are due to travel to Washington later this week to discuss the results of their discussions with the Trump administration.

Their two-day trip follows a visit by Kim’s sister to South Korea last month, when she invited Moon to North Korea to meet her brother.

Moon then avoided an immediate answer, suggesting that the two Koreas make it happen by creating the right circumstances.

The Winter Olympics – including the Paralympics that run March 9-18 – have provided a window to rebuild diplomatic ties after an escalating series of North Korean weapons tests last year prompted United Nations sanctions and threats of military action by US President Donald Trump.

While both the US and North Korea say they’re open to talks, it’s unclear how much either side is willing to concede.

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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.

“It places much importance on the envoys’ visit while continuing his peace offensive tactics toward the South and portraying his country as normal, modern, and peace-loving.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters in Tokyo that it’s important for efforts to be made in the talks toward denuclearisation, Kyodo reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in a regular briefing in Beijing earlier Monday that China hoped the interaction between the two Koreas could bring about talks between North Korea and US.

He added that China stands ready to play a positive role to realise denuclearisation and achieve lasting peace on the peninsula.

Trump and Moon spoke about the situation in a 30-minute phone call last week. The White House said the leaders “noted their firm position that any dialogue with North Korea must be conducted with the explicit and unwavering goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.”

Kim’s government says nuclear weapons are necessary to deter any US-led military action.

A North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday that the country wouldn’t accept US preconditions.

“We have intention to resolve issues in a diplomatic and peaceful way through dialogue and negotiation, but we will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the US,” the spokesperson said.

Additional reporting Agence France-Presse