SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has renewed his commitment to denuclearisation and promised to cooperate with the United States in talks, according to a South Korean envoy who met him in Pyongyang.
Mr Kim also asked the envoy to relay a message to the US, while voicing hopes to end their hostile ties before US President Donald Trump’s term ends in January 2021.
Separately, Mr Kim also agreed to hold his third summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang on Sept 18-20, as well as to open a joint liaison office at the Kaesong Industrial Complex before that.
In a briefing on Thursday (Sept 6) morning, South Korea’s national security chief Chung Eui-yong, who headed a five-member delegation to the North on Wednesday, said the two leaders will examine the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration agreement they made when they first met in April, and how to push the pact forward.
“The discussions at the summit will also be centred around issues on the permanent settlement of peace and common prosperity on the Korean peninsula as well as, particularly, practical measures to realise denuclearisation on the peninsula,” said Mr Chung.
He added that the two Koreas also agreed to continue to advance ongoing inter-Korea talks to ease military tension and decide on concrete plans to establish mutual trust and prevent military clashes.
Mr Chung’s visit to Pyongyang came amid growing concerns over a nuclear stalemate between North Korea and the US, after talks stalled due to both sides refusing to give in to each other’s demands.
Mr Trump last month even cancelled a trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in the denuclearisation process.
But Mr Kim apparently disagreed, insisting to Mr Chung that the steps taken by his country so far, including the dismantlement of a nuclear test site, are significant and meaningful.
Mr Chung also cited Mr Kim as saying that North Korea is unable to conduct any more nuclear tests, despite several reports that the regime is secretly continuing its nuclear programme.
President Moon, who mediated the first US-North Korea summit held in Singapore in June, is expected to play a bigger role trying to push for a breakthrough in the impasse, so as to advance inter-Korea ties with blessings from its security ally US.
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirmed in a report on Thursday that Mr Kim had reaffirmed his commitment to make the Korean peninsula nuclear-free in his “candid” meeting with Mr Chung.
“Noting that it is our fixed stand and his will to completely remove the danger of armed conflict and horror of war from the Korean peninsula and turn it into the cradle of peace without nuclear weapons and free from nuclear threat, he said that the North and the South should further their efforts to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” the KCNA said.
Mr Kim was also pleased to receive a personal letter from Mr Moon, delivered by Mr Chung, KCNA added.
“After reading the personal letter, the Supreme Leader expressed his thanks to the President for sending the good personal letter which expressed a firm will to wisely overcome many challenges in the future, too, and open a bright future of our nation while appreciating the fresh advance in the relations between the North and the South,” the KCNA said.
The two Koreas are set to hold working-level meetings next week to further discuss the upcoming Sept 18-20 summit.
Mr Chung is also expected to brief countries including the US on the results of his visit to Pyongyang, and “closely work together with them”.