North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang, officials say.
His hand-written invitation came as the U.S. warned the South not to be seduced by Pyongyang’s Olympic charm offensive.
The missive was delivered by Kim’s visiting sister Kim Yo-jong, who stated.he was willing to meet ‘at the earliest date possible’, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential palace said.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong (left) hands over the meeting invitation written by Kim Jong-un to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (right) during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday
Warming relations: The President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young-nam shakes hands with the President of the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee Lee Hee-beom during a banquet hosted by the Unification Ministry in Gangneung on Saturday
Ri Son-gwon (left), the head of the North’s state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs, and Kim Yo-jong (right), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attended a banquet for the North Korean high-level delegates in Seoul on Saturday
Police cordon off the streets leading to the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday as the motorcade of the North Korean delegation passes through
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (left) walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong (right) as they convene for a lunch at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday
It would be the first summit in more than 10 years between the Korean leaders.
Moon stated.the two countries should ‘make it happen’ and urged the North to restart negotiations with the U.S.
Washington is not expected to support the initiative – recently the Trump administration has been exerting ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.
Vice President Mike Pence is in Seoul, where he was reported to have described Kim’s regime as ‘the most tyrannical’ on earth.
The hardline U.S. policy is at odds with the more conciliatory approach towards the North favoured by South Korea.
President Moon supports more engagement with North Korea and held three hours of talks over lunch on Friday in the presidential palace with Kim Yo-jong and Kim Yong-nam, who is technically North Korea’s head of state.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook (front left) applaud the joint Korean team on Friday as North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un (back right) wave to their athletes
The invitation stated.North Korean Kim Jong-un (above) was willing to meet the South’s leader ‘at the earliest date possible’
Any summit between the two Koreas is unliekly to be welcomed by the U.S. – Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence (above) watched the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Friday close to the North Korean delegation
The North Korean invitation puts Moon in a difficult position as he seeks a rapprochement with the north on the one hand and a desire not to upset the U.S. on the other.
An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim’s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South’s Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang.
North Korea has dispatched athletes, performers and diplomatic delegates to the South after months of prevaricating as to whether it would even participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The letter delivered by ‘Special envoy Kim Yo-jong’ stated her brother’s ‘wish to improve inter-Korean relations’, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
She verbally conveyed Kim’s invitation to Moon ‘to visit the North at his most convenient time’, he added.
Moon did not immediately accept the offer but in the past has called for efforts to ‘create the right conditions to realise’ such a visit.
‘It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date,’ his spokesman said.
Washington has long insisted the North must show a willingness to denuclearise before any negotiations – which Pyongyang says it will never do.
Later on Saturday Mr Moon and Kim Yong-nam are due to attend an ice hockey match between North and South Korea — believed to be the first such contest of its kind.