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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) meets South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang, North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) meets South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Koreas Agree to Hold Summit Talks in April

South Korea’s presidential national security director said Pyongyang agreed to halt tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the US and that it was ready to have “heart-to-heart” talks with Washington

Koreas Agree to Hold Summit Talks in April

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to hold a landmark summit meeting with South Korea’s president next month and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests if his country holds talks with the United States, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday.
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s presidential national security director, said the two Koreas agreed to hold their third-ever summit at a border village in late April. He also said the leaders will establish a “hotline” communication channel to lower military tensions, and would speak together before the planned summit, AP reported.
Chung led a 10-member South Korean delegation that met with Kim during a two-day visit to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. They returned on Tuesday.

The agreements follow a flurry of cooperative steps taken by the Koreas during last month’s Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea. Tensions had run high during the previous year because of a barrage of North Korean weapons tests.
The two past summits, in 2000 and 2007, were held between Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and two liberal South Korean presidents. They resulted in a series of cooperative projects between the Koreas that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in South Korea.

  Abandoning Nuclear Tests
Chung said Pyongyang agreed to halt tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the US and that it was ready to have “heart-to-heart” talks with Washington.
The US talks would focus on potential denuclearization and the normalization of relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
“The North made clear its willingness for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and made clear that there is no reason to own nuclear (programs) if military threats towards the North are cleared and the security of its regime is guaranteed,” Chung said.
Washington and Pyongyang have been at loggerheads for months over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, with US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un trading insults and threatening war. North Korea has regularly vowed never to give up its nuclear program, which it sees as an essential deterrent against US plans for invasion.
The United States, which stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the Korean War, denies any such plans.

  Envoys Lay the Groundwork
Five South Korean envoys, including security advisor Chung, met with North Korean leaders in Pyongyang on Monday to lay the groundwork for potential peace talks between the two neighbors and the US.
It was first time North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had met high-ranking officials from the South since taking office in 2011.
Kim reacted positively to the idea of a summit floated at the meeting, both sides said earlier Tuesday.
North Korea’s state media KCNA said Kim expressed his desire to “write a new history of national reunification.”
There have been recent moves toward rapprochement between the two Koreas, highlighted during the winter Olympics held in the South in February, during which both countries made tentative gestures that they would sanction joint talks.
Both North Korea and the US have said they are willing to hold talks, but Washington’s position has been that they must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization.

  US Cautiously Optimistic
The US Defense Department, through Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning, said it was “cautiously optimistic and, obviously, we encourage the dialogue to take place.”
Manning said the US military would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with its ally South Korea, and was “absolutely” certain of Seoul’s commitment to their “ironclad alliance.”
Chung and the South’s intelligence chief Suh Hoon are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief US officials on their discussions in the North.
Both North Korea and the United States have said before they are open to talks but the US position has been that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization, something Pyongyang has rejected.
South Korea has also remained vigilant against North Korea’s weapons ambitions, saying on Tuesday that it should bolster its defenses in tandem with talks with Pyongyang.

 

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