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North Korean officials to accompany Kim in inter-Korean summit: Seoul


A South Korean official says North Korean leader Kim Jon-un will be accompanied by his sister and North Korea’s ceremonial head of state as well as two ministers in a historic inter-Korean summit with the South Korean president on Friday.

Im Jong-seok, the South’s presidential chief of staff, announced on Thursday that the North Korean leader’s sister and confidante, Kim Yo-jong, and the 90-year-old nominal head of the North Korean state, Kim Yong-nam, along with North Korea’s foreign and defense ministers would attend the summit at the border village of Panmunjom on April 27.

Kim’s sister and Kim Yo-jong had attended the Winter Olympics in the South in February.

The planned meeting will bring South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader together, with Kim crossing a military demarcation line to the South for the first time and becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended 65 years ago.

South Korean sources said official dialog between Kim and Moon would begin at 10:30 a.m. local time (0130 GMT) at the Peace House in Panmunjom, an hour after the North Korean leader is scheduled to cross the border — at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT).

The North’s military nuclear and missile programs will be high on the agenda. But it is unlikely that the meeting will produce any outcome beyond a thaw in the relations, which had been tense until January this year.

After the end of the first session of the talks, the two leaders will have lunch separately and then hold a tree-planting ceremony in the afternoon, according to the South’s presidential chief of staff.

Im said a pine tree would be planted on the demarcation line to symbolize “peace and prosperity,” with the use of soil from Mount Paektu in North Korea and Mount Halla in South Korea.

Kim and Moon will water the tree with water brought from the Taedong River in the North and the Han River in the South, Im said, adding that the two leaders will also take a walk in Panmunjom before beginning the next round of their talks.

Kim and Moon will sign an agreement and issue a joint statement at the end of talks, according to Im.

The North Korean leader said last week that he was ready to suspend the country’s nuclear and missile tests and close a nuclear test site as North Korea has already achieved adequate progress in the nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea says its weapons are defensive in nature and a necessary deterrent against potential hostility by the United States and its regional allies, including South Korea.

The two Koreas began mending fences in January, when Kim said he would be interested in talks being held between officials from the two countries. A series of overtures ensued.

A possible meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump is also reportedly being planned for sometime in May or June.

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