The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un met for the first time with senior South Korean government officials saying that it is his “firm will to vigorously advance inter-Korean ties and pursue reunification.”
The South Korean delegation was composed of 10 senior officials led by the head of the National Security Office, Chung Eui-yong. They traveled to the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Monday with the intention of starting talks between North Korea and the United States.
In the last 12 months, tensions between Washington and Pyongyang grew over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the exchange of insults and threats between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
However, the tensions between the North and the South lowered with the beginning of the Winter Olympics in South Korea where a high-level North Korean delegation attended several meetings with President Moon Jae-in. After the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong-un invited Moon to North Korea for a summit, which Moon said the two sides should work towards.
“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, (Kim Jong-un) exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said of the meeting.
According to Reuters, the agency did not provide details on what that agreement was but an official from the presidential Blue House in Seoul said it partially addressed the summit offer made by the North. Reuters also reported that Seoul’s delegation met Kim Jong-un, his sister Kim Yo Jong, his wife and other officials on Monday, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the South’s presidential office.
For the last few years, North Korea has been developing ballistic missiles with nuclear-tipped warheads that can reach the United States mainland. This has sparked tough sanctions aimed at discouraging Pyongyang from continuing with their programs. Although threats of war were exchanged between Trump and Jong-un, both Pyongyang and Washington say they want a diplomatic solution.
Meanwhile, White House officials said that they are skeptic about the North’s plans, saying that all they might want is for the sanctions to be reduced.