South Korean officials may visit North ahead of summit
South Korea says senior officials from the country may visit North Korea ahead of a summit between the South’s President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if more high-level talks are deemed necessary.
A senior South Korean official said on Tuesday that the two Koreas were discussing the wording of a possible joint statement to be released at the summit, which is due on April 27.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and general inter-Korean relations are likely to top the agenda for the meeting, Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, said.
Hoping to put it down on paper
Back in March, South Korea’s national security adviser and intelligence chief said after meeting Kim in Pyongyang that the North Korean leader was committed to denuclearizing and had expressed a willingness to meet US President Donald Trump.
“Even though our special envoys confirmed his denuclearization will, it is entirely different if the two leaders confirm it directly among themselves and put that into text,” Im told reporters. “We expect the summit will confirm the denuclearization will (of North Korea).”
The official stressed that economic cooperation between the Koreas were unlikely to be included in any joint statement.
Meanwhile, South Korea said that a hotline between the leaders of the two countries could be operational by April 20.
Seoul also noted that it would discuss with the North live coverage of the inter-Korean summit, the first to be held since 2007.
Inter-Korean relations have improved following the Winter Olympics, held in the South in February, in which the North also participated, starting a rapprochement.
The two neighbors have been separated by a heavily-militarized border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula were running high last year. Pyongyang advanced its weapons program as the US took an increasingly war-like posture toward North Korea. But Kim expressed sudden interest in the resolution of disagreements with the South on New Year’s Day, and a series of overtures began.