South Korean officials may visit North Korea before summit

17 April, 2018, 20:48 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Kim and Xi meeting in Beijing in March a Japanese newspaper says a possible Xi visit to Pyongyang is now being discussed

Chinese President Xi Jinping is to visit North Korea in June for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Japan's Yomiuiri Shimbun reported on Monday.

The peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the USA -backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops.

Moon is set to meet the reclusive North Korean leader next Friday for what would be a third inter-Korean summit.

Asked about the report, a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing said: "We are willing to maintain and strengthen high-level exchanges with the DPRK (North Korea), deepen strategic communication and expand exchanges and cooperation to benefit the people of both countries".

On Tuesday, South Korean presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok said it is critically important to get the North Korean leader to confirm his commitment to denuclearization during the April 27 inter-Korean summit.

"We expect the summit will confirm the denuclearisation will (of North Korea), and hope to have a comprehensive agreement with the North on the matter", he said.

Im told reporters that the inter-Korean meeting could be a "cautious starting point" for efforts aimed at the "complete denuclearization or establishment of permanent peace", while using such developments to achieve a dramatic improvement in North Korea's relations with the United States, South Korea and other nations in the region.

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"Without US support and agreement, it will be hard to follow through on inter-Korean agreements".

One noteworthy comment from Kim to the South Korean special envoys last month was that he wished to be "taken seriously" during his talks with Moon and Trump.

UN Security Council sanctions imposed since North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006 and strengthened over the past decade aim to cut North Korea off from global trade.

The North initially reached out to South Korea when Kim said in his New Year's address that his country was willing to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Games and hold talks with Seoul to realize that. Kim is to hold separate summit talks in coming weeks with the South Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Discussions are underway about live coverage of part of the meeting, Im said.

No peace treaty has been signed to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and the USA and North Korea have been at loggerheads since formal hostilities ceased.

The comments by culture minister Do Jong-whan came as the country's conservative newspaper Munwha Ilbo said the two Koreas were discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict on the peninsula.

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