North Korea has said it will not need to keep its nuclear weapons if military threats against the country are resolved and it receives a credible security guarantee, South Korea has said today.
The promise was made to a delegation of South Korean officials during a two-day visit to Pyongyang where they held talks with dictator Kim Jong-Un.
The head of the delegation also said Kim had vowed never to use nuclear and conventional weapons against South Korea, and agreed to a meeting with president Moon Jae-In in April.
Smile of the leader: Kim Jong Un, front right, meets South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong, front left, in Pyongyang, North Korea
The summit talks, which are to be held at the border truce village of Panmunjom in late April, will be the third inter-Korean summit talks ever held – and the first in over a decade.
Kim Jong Un seemingly put on a charm offensive when meeting the South Korean delegation yesterday, as images released by North Korean state news shows him grinning broadly as he grasps the hand of one of the visiting officials.
He also appeared to be in a jovial mood later in the day, when he hosted a dinner with his wife, Ri Sol-Ju, where one of the officials had Kim’s sister Kim Yo-Jong as his dining partner.
The photograph of the group sat down to eat shows them at a table decorated with a floral centrepiece, and several bottles of wine and what appears to be a local alcoholic spirit in front of them.
After the delegation returned to Seoul on Tuesday, the presidential office announced that North and South Korea will hold their first summit in more than a decade in late April.
The past two summits, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, were held between South Korea and Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and resulted in a series of cooperative projects between the Koreas.
The head of the delegation, Chung Eui-yong, told a media briefing that North Korea had also made the surprise declaration on their nuclear arsenal.
North Korea had also said it was open to talking with the United States regarding denuclearisation and normalising ties, Chung, South Korea’s presidential national security director, added.
Special guests: Kim Jong Un sits next to his wife Ri Sol-Ju, with his sister Kim Yo-Jong sat to the right of one of the South Korean diplomats during a meal hosted by North Korea
Kim Jong Un, center, his sister Kim Yo Jong, and Vice Chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee Kim Yong Chol meet members of South Korean delegation
Kim reportedly expressed his desire to ‘write a new history of national reunification’ during the dinner, which the South Korean government said lasted about four hours.
The meeting marked the first time South Korean officials have met with the young North Korean leader in person since he took power after his dictator father’s death in late 2011.
It’s the latest sign that the Koreas are trying to mend ties after one of the tensest years in a region that seems to be permanently on edge.
Given the robust history of bloodshed, threats and animosity on the Korean Peninsula, there is considerable skepticism over whether the Koreas’ apparent warming relations will lead to lasting peace.
North Korea, some believe, is trying to use improved ties with the South to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions and pressure, and to provide domestic propaganda fodder for Kim.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets members of the special delegation of South Korea’s President in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency
The North Korean dictatos shakes hands with South Korea’s national security director Chung Eui-yong as his sister looks on
No insight: Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government
But each new development also raises the possibility that the Koreas can use the momentum from the good feelings created during North Korea’s participation in the South’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month to ease a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and restart talks between the North and the United States.
Many in Seoul and Washington will want to know if there’s any possibility Kim will negotiate over his breakneck pursuit of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can viably target the U.S. mainland, which the North has repeatedly and bluntly declared it will not give up.
Yesterday, although notably according to North Korean state media, Kim was said to have offered his views on ‘activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange’ between the countries.
Kim was said to have expressed at the dinner his ‘firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud of in the world.’
He was also said to have given ‘important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps’ for a summit with South Korean President Moon, which the North proposed last month.
Moon, a liberal who is eager to engage the North, likely wants to visit Pyongyang, but in the meantime, Moon sent his national security director, Chung, to head the 10-member South Korean delegation. ]
Chung’s trip was the first known high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in about a decade.
Envoys for South Korea led by President Moon’s national security director, Chung Eui-yong, are on a rare two-day visit to Pyongyang that’s expected to focus on how to ease a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and restart talks between Pyongyang and Washington
Mr Chung walks to board an aircraft as he leaves for Pyongyang at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, Monday
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 U.S.-South Korean war games are a rehearsal for an invasion.
Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he would relay Moon’s hopes for North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanent peace on the peninsula.
Chung’s delegation included intelligence chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.
The South Korean presidential Blue House said the high-profile delegation was meant to reciprocate the Olympic trip by Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who became the first member of the North’s ruling family to come to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim Yo Jong, who also attended Monday’s dinner, and other senior North Korean officials met with Moon during the Olympics, conveyed Kim Jong Un’s invitation to visit Pyongyang and expressed their willingness to hold talks with the United States.
Having concluded their Pyongyang trip, Chung’s delegation is scheduled to fly to the United States to brief officials about the outcome of the talks with North Korean officials.
President Donald Trump has said talks with North Korea will happen only ‘under the right conditions.’
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