South Korea to host talks before inter-Korean summit

Talks, focusing on logistical details for proposed inter-Korean summit, will be held in the border village of Panmunjom.

    Officials from North and South Korea will meet in the border village of Panmunjom to hold preparatory talks before the planned inter-Korean summit scheduled to take place in April.

    The discussions, focusing on logistical details for the upcoming summit between the two presidents – Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in – will take place inside the Demilitarized Zone on Thursday.

    According to the South’s Unification Ministry, a team of three officials, led by the chairman of North Korea’s committee for peaceful reunification, will take part in the talks.

    Artists from both nations will collaborate for a show on April 3, the South’s Yonhap news agency said. The talks will precede musical performances in Pyongyang in early April by a group of South Korean singers.

    Earlier this week, the North Korean leader visited Beijing – his first foreign tour since he took power in 2011 – where, following talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un pledged to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

    On Wednesday, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Kim as saying the nuclear weapons issue could be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to Pyongyang’s efforts “with goodwill”.

    “It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il-sung and late general secretary Kim Jong-il,” Kim said, referring to his grandfather and father, according to the statement by China’s foreign ministry.

    “The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability, while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace.”

    The fast-thawing relations between the two countries, just months after the North Korean leader boasted of having a nuclear button on his desk, started in January when cross-border talks took place before the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    The Pyeongchang Games saw athletes from both sides of the border march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony of the event, which also saw a joint female ice-hockey team.

    North Korea’s willingness to hold talks has been welcomed by most South Koreans, albeit with scepticism over Kim’s sincerity in abandoning his nuclear arsenal through dialogue, according to a recent poll.

    A survey conducted by RealMeter in South Korea on Monday said 73.1 percent of respondents welcomed North Korea’s proposal for dialogue and willingness for denuclearisation.

    However, 64.1 percent of respondents said they did not trust North Korea’s intentions. Those in their 20s were the most critical, with 74 percent expressing distrust in the regime.

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