Kim Jong-un has met South Korean officials in Pyongyang as part of a bid to bring the United States and North Korea together for talks.
A ten-strong delegation from Seoul, led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, was greeted by North Korean officials after landing in the secretive state’s capital
The South Korean officials were later invited to join tyrant Kim Jong-un at a dinner. Seoul’s delegation included the most senior officials to meet Kim since he took power in late 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
Both North Korea and the United States have expressed a willingness to talk, but U.S. President Donald Trump demands the North first gives up its nuclear weapons programme.
A ten-strong delegation from Seoul, led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, was greeted by North Korean officials after landing in Pyongyang today. Kim Yong Chol (second from right), vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, is pictured talking with the delegation
Kim Jong-un ( file picture) has met South Korean officials in Pyongyang as part of a bid to bring the United States and North Korea together for talks
The North Koreans at the airport included Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country and Kim Yong Chol, who heads the United Front Department, the North Korean office responsible for handling inter-Korean affairs. Both visited South Korea last month during the Winter Olympics.
Chung Eui-yongs stated.before flying to North Korea: ‘We will deliver President Moon Jae-in’s wish to bring about denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace by extending the goodwill and better inter-Korean relations created by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.’
The North, which has vowed never to give up its nuclear deterrent against what it sees as U.S. hostility, says it will not sit down to talks under preconditions.
Reclusive North Korea, which has made no secret of its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the mainland United States in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, is also concerned about a joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise, which it sees as preparation for war.
South Korean officials have stated.the drill will start next month as planned, after being postponed for the Winter Olympics held last month in South Korea.
The delegation hopes to speak to North Korean officials on starting dialogue between the North and the United States as well as other countries, the delegation leader said.
Chung Eui-yong (centre, left), chief of South Korea’s presidential National Security Office, shakes hands with send-off staff before heading to Pyongyang from Seoul Airport
The North, which has vowed never to give up its nuclear deterrent against what it sees as U.S. hostility, says it will not sit down to talks under preconditions. File picture shows a North Korean rocket launch drill
Chung’s team includes National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.
The delegation is expected to take part in another meeting set for early Tuesday, stated.a South Korean official who declined to be identified.
The government hopes the visit will create ‘a positive atmosphere’, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a regular briefing.
Chung and Suh are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief U.S. officials on their discussions in the North.
Thawing relations between the Korean neighbours have prompted speculation about direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang after months of tension and exchanges of bellicose insults between Trump and Kim Jong Un fuelled fears of war.
North Korea has not carried out any weapons tests since late November, when it tested its largest intercontinental ballistic missile. Inter-Korean talks began after Kim Jong Un stated.in his New Year’s address that he wanted to engage the South.
North Korea later sent athletes to the Olympics, as well as a high-ranking delegation that included Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong.
Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States, which stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the Korean War.
‘Neither sanctions nor provocations nor threats can ever undermine our position of a nuclear weapons state,’ the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper stated.recently.
‘Hoping that the DPRK would abandon its nuclear programmes is as foolish an act as trying to wish seas to get dried up,’ it said, referring to itself by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.