SEOUL • Senior officials from North and South Korea will meet next week to discuss the possibility of a third summit between their countries' leaders, the South has said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in of the South have already met twice this year, in April and May.
South Korean officials have recently expressed interest in holding a third meeting soon, in hopes of breaking an impasse between North Korea and the United States over the dismantling of the North's nuclear arms programme.
Mr Moon has accepted an invitation from Mr Kim to visit Pyongyang in autumn. But no date has been set, and it is unclear whether the proposed third summit would be held there.
A meeting at Panmunjom, the truce village on the inter-Korean border where the previous talks were held, would take much less time to arrange.
The South's Unification Ministry on Thursday said North Korea had proposed holding ministerial-level talks at Panmunjom on Monday to discuss preparations for another summit, and that South Korea had quickly accepted the offer.
At their April 27 meeting, which was the first time Mr Kim and Mr Moon met, the two reached a broad agreement on easing military tensions and improving ties.
They also said "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula was a shared goal.
That meeting, and the one that followed at Panmunjom on May 26, helped to lay the groundwork for Mr Kim's historic talks with US President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore, the first meeting between sitting leaders of the US and North Korea.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim signed a joint statement in which the North Korean leader again committed to work towards "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", while Mr Trump promised to provide the North with security guarantees and to help build "new" bilateral relations. But there has been little evidence of concrete post-summit progress on the key issue of denuclearisation, and both sides have since expressed frustration with each other.
North Korea's foreign ministry on Thursday said Pyongyang had stopped nuclear and missile tests, dismantled a nuclear test site and returned the remains of some US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Yet Washington was still insisting on "denuclearisation first" and had "responded to our expectation by inciting international sanctions and pressure", it said.
Washington has insisted sanctions pressure must be maintained during negotiations.
A United Nations report last week accused the North of evading sanctions by continuing to export coal, iron and other commodities as well as carrying out illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil products at sea.
Seoul yesterday said three South Korean firms were caught importing coal and iron from the North last year in an apparent violation of UN sanctions.
In a complex process spanning three countries, coal shipments were first sent to Russia, where their details were disguised using forged "country of origin" documents, and then reloaded on ships bound for the South, the Korea Customs Service said in a statement that followed a 10-month investigation by the authorities.
Russia and China have called on the UN Security Council to consider easing sanctions to reward North Korea for opening up dialogue with the US and halting nuclear and missile tests.
Moscow and Beijing on Thursday objected to a US proposal to add a Russian bank, a Moscow-based North Korean banker and two other entities to a Security Council blacklist, diplomats said.
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS