Koreas agree to hold leaders’ summit in April

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/6 20:58:39 Last Updated: 2018/3/7 7:35:45

Peninsula situation depends on US response: expert

This handout photo taken on Monday shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) shaking hands with South Korean chief delegate Chung Eui-yong, who traveled as an envoy of the South's President Moon Jae-in, during their meeting in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a leaders' summit that will take place at the end of April at the joint security area of Panmunjom.

The South Korean president's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, announced the planned summit on Tuesday after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang the previous day, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

North Korea has also agreed to impose a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests if it holds talks with the US, Chung said, as reported by Yonhap News Agency.

North Korean leader Kim held an "openhearted" talk with the visiting South Korean special delegation, agreeing to "vigorously advance" inter-Korean ties, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.

It was the first time that Kim met senior South Korean officials since taking office six years ago.

Analysts said that by focusing on improving inter-Korean relations rather than the nuclear and missile programs, South Korea is carefully building a warm atmosphere, maintaining a delicate situation on the Korean Peninsula and struggling to bring North Korea and the US together for talks, though the latter remains deeply skeptical.

Kim met the envoys led by Chung in talks and over dinner on Monday in North Korea's Workers' Party headquarters in Pyongyang.

During their meeting, Chung handed over a personal letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Kim, KCNA reported. Both sides exchanged in-depth views on easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchanges, the KCNA reported.

"Seoul's strategy toward Pyongyang is clear, which is to provide a way out for North Korea under the current sanctions by achieving reconciliation on inter-Korean relations. It aims to keep Pyongyang from conducting more nuclear and missiles tests, prevent tensions from escalating between Pyongyang and Washington, and avoid the already delicate situation from getting out of control," said Wang Sheng, a professor of international relations at Jilin University.

"One of Moon's objectives is to find out Kim Jong-un's bottom line and persuade him to talk to the US. Without US-North Korea talks, inter-Korean relations won't go far," Wang said.

Earlier on Tuesday, China welcomed the interactions between the two Koreas. "We hope the interactions between the two Koreas can be extended to include interactions between North Korea and the US," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

US' move

Following their North Korea trip, the South Korean envoys will visit Washington to meet with officials from the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump tweeted, "We will see what happens!" in response to Kim's meeting with Chung.

Chung has close ties with the US, Wang said. "To push for US-North Korea talks, both Washington and Pyongyang need to lower their threshold and be pragmatic. How the situation on the Korean Peninsula would evolve in the post-Olympic era now depends on the US."

Both North Korea and the US have said they are open to talks but the US insists that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea's denuclearization, which Pyongyang has rejected.

The Pentagon nevertheless has said it was "cautiously optimistic" about North-South talks, suspecting the rapprochement might jeopardize the effectiveness of the sanctions.

Seoul may use obscure diplomatic terms to deal with nuclear topics in talks with Pyongyang, even in the summit between Kim and Moon, until conditions mature for US-North Korea talks, said Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University.


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