Kim Jong Un wants to advance Korea ties, makes agreement with South

Elias Hubbard
March 6, 2018

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

The April summit will be held at the Panmunjom Peace House on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries, Chung said.

The North Korean leader broke the ice between North and South Korea by proposing talks to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in a New Year's address.

The two leaders will hold their first phone conversation ahead of the summit, according to the South's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong.

Tensions and fears of conflict on the Korean Peninsula have soared, prompted by bellicose insults and barbed threats between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The news follows a year packed with white-hot nuclear threats and increasingly provocative nuclear and missile tests carried out by North Korea.

Kim did not appear to meet with a senior Chinese envoy who was sent to North Korea for rare talks in November 2017, nor did he meet with former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who traveled to Pyongyang for a rare visit almost four years ago.

Monday's delegation included spy chief Suh Hoon, who is a veteran in dealings with the North.

Moon, who advocates dialogue with the North's nuclear-armed regime, said last week that Washington needs to "lower the threshold for talks" with Pyongyang.

While Suh was widely expected to go, the selection of Chung as leader of the delegation was a "last-minute" decision made with an eye on convincing the United States to buy into the negotiations that South Korea hopes to initiate, officials said.

The South Korean envoys are to meet with Kim on Monday evening.

"He also made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean peninsula, and activating versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange", it reported.

Japan said Tuesday it is confident South Korea remains committed to putting pressure on its northern neighbor over its nuclear program after envoys representing South Korean President Moon Jae In held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

Ties between the United States and North Korea were particularly tense before the Winter Olympics, with both sides threatening each other with total destruction.

Previous warming ties between the Koreas have come to nothing amid North Korea's repeated weapons tests and the North's claims that the annual US-South Korean war games are a rehearsal for an invasion. However, none of the parties commented on how it responded to Kim Jong-UN.

American officials have frequently said they can only negotiate with North Korea if they scrap their nuclear weapons.

Chung will later visit China and Russian Federation, while Suh Hoon, the head of South Korea's spy agency and another member of the delegation, will head to Japan.

Chung's trip is the first known high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in about a decade.

"The delegation is meant to bring some kind of outcome with which to persuade the United States", a senior official with Moon's party told Reuters.

In a punchy tweet he wrote: "Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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