North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will welcome his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in September in Pyongyang, representatives of the two Koreas announced on Monday after a meeting in the demilitarized zone.
After two hours of discussions, the representatives did not give more details. The exact date of this new summit, which will be the opportunity to resolve the nuclear stand-off between Washington and Pyongyang, is still unknown.
Monday’s meeting in the north of the border village of Panmunjom is an initiative of the regime of Kim Jong-un, who denounced at the beginning of the month statements of the US Secretary of State.
Mike Pompeo called on the international community to maintain “diplomatic and economic pressure” on North Korea until the regime gives up its nuclear and ballistic weapons. The Secretary of State reacted to the publication of a UN report that revealed that Pyongyang continued its programs, including seeking to sell weapons in Africa and the Middle East.
In addition to these recent hiccups, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un had already agreed to meet again in autumn, in Pyongyang, following the first inter-Korean summit last April.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, head of the Southern delegation, said it was important for the two Koreas to keep “the same mindset” during the talks.
“We will make an overall assessment of progress in the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and discuss next steps,” he said, shortly before Monday’s meeting.
We have begun a period in which we walk hand in hand, rather than putting ourselves on the path of the other.
Ri Son Gwon, head of the North Korean delegation
So far, South Korea has been a key player in warming diplomatic relations between the Kim Jong-un regime and the United States. The organization of the first inter-Korean Moon-Kim summit paved the way for the one between North Korea’s strongman and US President Donald Trump in June.
Nevertheless, little progress has been made on the fundamental issue of the North’s prohibited arsenal and the denuclearization of the peninsula, a key commitment of the Trump-Kim Summit.
“We will listen to what the North has to say, and we will explain our positions,” said Minister Cho shortly before the meeting.
On the side of the chief negotiator of North Korea, the tone was optimistic before the opening of the talks. “We are taking part in these discussions with the intention of achieving good results,” said Ri Son Gwon, comparing North-South relations to those of very good friends.