North Korean leader tells envoy from South he wants to ‘vigorously advance’ relations in first meeting since he came to power in 2011
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he wants to “vigorously advance” relations with South Korea, telling a visiting delegation from Seoul he hoped to “write a new history of national reunification”, The Guardian reports.
Kim made the comments during a two-day trip by the delegation led by Chung Eui-yong, the head of the South’s national security office. The officials are the most senior South Koreans to meet Kim since he came to power in 2011 after the death of his father.
“He … made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.
“He repeatedly clarified that it is our consistent and principled stand and his firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud of in the world.”
It was not clear what a “satisfactory agreement” meant and despite a standing invitation for Moon to visit Pyongyang, no date has been set. The two sides have remained in a technical state of war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.
The visit follows two months of easing tensions with North Korea and is the first of its kind since Moon’s liberal government was sworn in last year. The officials delivered a letter from Moon and Kim issued orders for “practical steps” to be taken, KCNA said without giving details.
Kim and his wife also personally hosted a dinner for the group at the Workers’ party headquarters, the first time South Korean officials have visited the building, according to Seoul’s presidential office. Kim’s younger sister and close advisor Kim Yo-jong also attended the meal, which lasted more than four hours.
A photo of Kim posing with five members of the South Korean delegation was splashed across the front page of the Rodong Shinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ party.
Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he would stress the need to “denuclearise the Korean Peninsula” and said he would encourage direct dialogue between North Korea and the US.
While Pyongyang has repeatedly announced it is ready to talk to US officials, president Donald Trump has so far resisted those overtures. Washington has continued its “maximum pressure” campaign, and on Monday announced a new round of largely symbolic sanctions over the North’s use of chemical weapons.
The US has said any talks must centre on North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile program, while Pyongyang views the weapons as necessary for its survival.