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30 March 2018, 12:08 | Susie Olson
Rival Koreas Begin High-level Talks Meant to Set Up Summit
North Korea'sKim Jung Un will meet next month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village in a high-profile meeting that could prove significant in global efforts to resolve a decades-long standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
This combo of file photos shows a picture taken on May 10, 2016 of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the balcony of the Grand People's Study House following a mass parade in Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang; and a picture taken on August 17, 2017 of South Korea's President Moon Jae-In speaking during a press conference marking his first 100 days in office in Seoul.
US President Donald Trump, who earlier exchanged barbs with Kim, owing to North Korea's persistent missile tests, had last month accepted an invitation from the latter for a meet. He called for officials from both countries to do their best to "perfectly secure the historic meeting between the leaders".
Japan has sounded out the North Korean government about a bilateral summit, and Pyongyang has discussed the possibility of a leaders' meeting with Japan and other countries, Japan's Asahi newspaper said on Thursday.
The agreement on the date for the upcoming meeting comes after Kim traveled to China and met with its leader Xi Jinping, who has always been the hermit kingdom's biggest ally but has recently agreed to stricter sanctions against it.
At the meeting in Beijing, the North Korean leader repeated his offer to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.
However, Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said most South Koreans have such low expectations of progress with the North that short of starting a war "his credibility does not wrest on the outcome of the talks".
Kim also said afterward that with the Korean Peninsula undergoing "unprecedented changes", he paid a swift visit to China "out of good wishes for promoting peace and stability on the peninsula, and carrying on and developing" North Korea-China friendship, according to the official news agency.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon told reporters Kim's visit to China was not discussed with North Korean officials in their Thursday talks.
"Over the past 80 days, there have been many dramatic events that have not been seen earlier", Ri Son Gwon, the North's chief delegate told Thursday's meeting, according to Yonhap.
Seoul last week proposed that the two Koreas would on Thursday discuss the agenda for the upcoming summit - though today's joint statement featured no information about what will be discussed when Kim and Moon meet.
Furthermore, Kim had made an unannounced and surprise visit to Beijing, where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping, that reportedly took place from March 25 to March 28.
There seems to be a spring-like weather in political atmosphere of Korean peninsula.
Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday that he received a message from Xi the previous night in which the Chinese president said his meeting with Kim went "very well" and that Kim was looking forward to meeting Trump. Mr Trump accepted the offer and they could meet as soon as May.
The United States and South Korea agreed to revise their six-year-old trade pact with a side deal to deter competitive currency devaluation by Seoul and with concessions for USA autos and pharmaceutical companies, Trump administration officials said on Tuesday.
It's unclear whether the leaders' meetings could lead to any meaningful breakthrough. The meeting followed a sudden period of inter-Korean warmth over February's Winter Olympics in the South, to which the North sent hundreds of officials, including Kim's sister who met with Moon to convey her brother's desire for a summit.
It was Kim's first foreign trip since taking power in late 2011.
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