North Korea agrees to hold summit preparation talks on Mar 29

Mar 24, 2018, 12:31
North Korea agrees to hold summit preparation talks on Mar 29

The inter-Korean summit - which will be the third held between the competing states - is expected to take place between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late April.

The talks were first proposed by South Korea to be held in the Panmunjom truce village in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

High-ranking officials from North and South Korea will meet on the countries' border next week to prepare for the inter-Korean summit meeting planned for late next month, the South said on Saturday.

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North Korea said it will be represented by a three-member delegation led by Ri Son Kwon, chairman of the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland Committee.

The Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean propaganda outlet, said the sudden conciliatory moves were an "expression of self-confidence" by a regime that already "has acquired everything it desires", a possible reference to the buildup of its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals. South Korean officials also brokered a potential meeting between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump by the end of May. The two countries conduct this drill annually; however, they announced that the drilling exercises would be shortened this time around because of the diplomatic thaw with North Korea.

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

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The team of government officials and experts arrived in Pyongyang via Beijing on Thursday for a three-day stay to check two venues for an art group's performances slated for March 31 to April 3.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said Tuesday that North Korea denuclearization was not on the table.

A South Korean presidential official, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, downplayed such worries on Friday, saying that Mr Trump remains firmly committed to the summit and is leading the drive to set it up.

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State media in the North have not reported any public activities by Kim since March 6, when they said he held talks with South Korean envoys and made a "satisfactory agreement" on the proposed inter-Korean summit.

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