North Korea leader wants to advance ties with South: KCNA

March 06, 2018 08:56
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greets Chung Eui-yong, head of South Korea's National Security Office, in Pyongyang on Monday. Photo: Presidential Blue House/Yonhap via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told a visiting delegation from South Korea that it is his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties and “write a new history of national reunification”, Reuters reports, citing the North’s official news agency.

“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, [Kim Jong-un] exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said of the meeting that took place on Monday.

The agency did not provide details on what that agreement was.

A 10-member South Korean delegation led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, went to North Korea in hopes of encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk to one another. The two sides have stoked months of tension in the region, prompted by bellicose insults between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has been developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the US. Both Pyongyang and Washington say they want a diplomatic solution.

Seoul’s delegation met Kim Jong-un, his sister Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s wife and other officials on Monday, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the South’s presidential office.

The delegation will wrap up a two-day trip to Pyongyang later on Tuesday after another meeting with North Korean officials, the spokesman said.

The members of the delegation are the most senior South Korean government officials that have met with Kim Jong-un since the North Korean leader inherited the leadership from his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

Chung said at the Blue House on Monday before his departure that his team would deliver the South Korean president’s wish to bring about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace.

Kim Jong-un gave orders for “practical steps” regarding the letter that was delivered to him from Moon via the delegation, KCNA said without elaborating.

“He also made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” the report said.

Both North Korea and the US have said they are open to talks, but the US position has been that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization, something Pyongyang has rejected.

The Pentagon nevertheless said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the North-South talks, which resumed in January for the first time in two years.

North Korea has vowed never to give up what it calls an essential deterrent against US hostility. Pyongyang has not carried out any nuclear or missile tests since November last year.

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