North Korea has agreed to inter-Korean talks next week: South

South Korean President Moon Jae-in receives a letter from Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, in Seoul in February.   | Photo Credit: AP

North Korea on Saturday agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea next week to discuss logistics for a rare inter-Korean summit, the South’s Unification Ministry said.

The two sides will each send a three-member delegation to the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday for talks aimed at paving the way for a summit due in late April, it said.

South Korea on Wednesday had proposed holding high-level talks with the North to discuss details including the summit’s dates and agenda.

The talks will take place at the Unification Pavilion building on the northern side of Panmunjom, which sits on the border, with Seoul’s delegation led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his counterpart Ri Son Gwon heading Pyongyang’s.

The decision by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to meet came amid a rapid rapprochement kicked off with the recent Winter Olympics in the South.

The U.S. and South Korea had announced on Tuesday that their annual joint military drills would go ahead next month, but the main exercise will be shortened by a month.

The exercises have caused tensions for years, with Pyongyang condemning them as preparations for an invasion of the North.

Rapid rapprochement

The inter-Korean summit is due to be followed by a face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Mr. Kim by the end of May. Following a period of heightened tensions stoked by the North’s nuclear and missile tests last year, a rapid rapprochement has been under way on the Korean peninsula.

The North on Wednesday broke its silence on the diplomatic thaw with Washington and Seoul, with its official KCNA news agency saying Pyongyang was driving the peace initiative and rejecting suggestions that sanctions forced it to dialogue table.

As diplomats scurry to arrange the North-South talks as well as the proposed Trump-Kim meeting, the North’s silence has raised concerns over its intentions.

North’s media silent

North Korean State media have not yet directly mentioned the summits.

Analysts say the North is carefully watching to see how events — including the U.S.-South Korea military drills — play out before making them public to its people.

On Friday, Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the North’s ruling Workers Party, attacked the U.S. for continued sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang despite diplomatic progress.

“The United States has miscalculated. The stronger the U.S. pressure, the stronger the DPRK [North Korea]... If the U.S. fails to draw a lesson and continues acting recklessly, it would surely be in for a greater humiliation and defeat,” it said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 11:15:09 AM |

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