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10:17, 10 February 2018

Kim Jong-un Invites South Korean Leader to North for Summit


Kim Jong-un Invites South Korean Leader to North for Summit

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SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has invited President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to go to his country “at an early date” for a summit meeting, Mr. Moon’s office announced on Saturday.

Mr. Moon said the two Koreas should “work together to develop the environment to make it take place,” a spokesman said.

Mr. Kim relayed the invitation by way of his trusted adviser and only sister, Kim Yo-jong, who met with Mr. Moon at the presidential Blue Property in Seoul on Saturday, in the highest-level speak to amongst the two Koreas in years. She is element of an official North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and she attended the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday.

Her brother’s invitation to Mr. Moon, who has been eager to pursue dialogue with the North, raised the prospect of détente between the two Koreas following a lot more than a year of rising tensions spurred by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests, and by President Trump’s threats to use military force to finish the crisis.

But the overture also has the possible to divide South Korea from the United States, its primary military ally. The Trump administration has discouraged South Korea from engaging with the North unless it shows clear signs of providing up its nuclear weapons program.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was also at the Olympic opening ceremony (and sat just feet away from Ms. Kim, neither apparently speaking to the other), has been vital of the North’s participation in the Games, seeing it as an try to create just such a division.

In his message to Mr. Moon, Mr. Kim “said he was prepared to meet President Moon Jae-in at an early date and asked him to visit North Korea at a practical date,” mentioned Kim Eui-kyeom, the spokesman for Mr. Moon.

Mr. Moon has stated he was willing to meet Kim Jong-un only if he received assurance from the North that it would support resolve the crisis over the North’s nuclear weapons system. The exchange between Ms. Kim, who was visiting Seoul as her brother’s “special envoy,” and Mr. Moon indicated that the Koreas would quickly begin high-level negotiations on the terms of a achievable summit meeting.

“The South and North shared an understanding that they must continue the optimistic mood for peace and recognition designed by the Pyeongchang Olympics and must market inter-Korean dialogue, exchanges and cooperation,” Mr. Moon’s office said in a statement.

Mr. Moon also urged North Korea to talk to the United States, his office mentioned. In the past, he has stated that there was a limit to how considerably the Koreas’ ties could improve with no a resolution of the nuclear weapons situation. In a news conference last month, he said he was not interested in “talks for talks’ sake.”

“If we are going to have a summit meeting, there has to be an atmosphere developed for a summit meeting and there has to be some level of confidence that it would bring about some final results,” Mr. Moon stated then.

He seemed to make a related point on Saturday, by referring to the want to “create the environment” for talks.

Nevertheless, Mr. Moon’s government is clearly more optimistic than the Trump administration about the possible for the Koreas’ cooperation at the Olympics to produce the groundwork for far more substantial discussions. At a reception on Friday, Mr. Moon pointed to the joint Korean women’s ice hockey team — an Olympic initial — as a starting point.

“The female ice hockey players from the two Koreas are now holding a small snowball in their hands,” he said. “Now, if we place our hearts and minds with each other, it will continue to develop bigger and larger and turn into a snowman of peace.” Mr. Moon was scheduled to join North Korean officials on Saturday in cheering for the group against Switzerland.

Mr. Pence, by contrast, avoided speaking with North Korean officials on Friday, and he and his wife did not stand, as most spectators did, when the athletes from both Koreas marched together under a flag representing a unified Korea. Earlier Friday, Mr. Pence met with defectors from the North and invited them to inform their stories of repression below Pyongyang.

Mr. Moon would like to bring both North Korea and the United States to the negotiating table. China has recommended that talks could commence if the United States suspended its regular joint military workout routines with South Korea, and if North Korea reciprocated by shelving nuclear and missile tests.

But both sides have held their ground. North Korea has mentioned that its nuclear weapons are not for bargaining away. In a speech that Mr. Kim gave on New Year’s Day, in which he initial raised the possibility of the North participating in the Olympics, he vowed to “mass-produce” nuclear weapons and missiles.

Mr. Pence reiterated on Friday that the North should “put denuclearization on the table and take concrete measures with the world community to dismantle, permanently and irreversibly, their nuclear and ballistic missile applications.”

“Then, and only then, will the planet neighborhood contemplate negotiating and creating adjustments in the sanctions regime that is placed on them nowadays,” Mr. Pence mentioned right after a meeting with Mr. Moon.

The United States has also opposed suspending its joint military exercises with the South, though it agreed to delay drills scheduled for February till the Olympics are more than. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, asked Mr. Moon on Friday to hold the workout routines soon right after the Games end, but Mr. Moon told Mr. Abe not to meddle in South Korea’s “sovereignty and internal affairs,” South Korean officials mentioned.

If Mr. Moon accepts Mr. Kim’s supply to come to the North, it will be the third summit meeting ever held between the two Koreas. Kim Jong-il, Mr. Kim’s father, had met with two South Korean presidents in Pyongyang prior to his death in 2011: with President Kim Dae-jung in 2000, and with President Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

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Published at Sat, 10 Feb 2018 09:46:35 +0000

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