Top South Korea security officials talk nuclear in North | News | DW | 05.03.2018
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Top South Korea security officials talk nuclear in North

The most senior South Korean officials to travel to the North in decades are seeking to ease nuclear tensions with the US. The delegation became the first to meet Kim Jong Un since the leader took office in 2011.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a dinner Monday for a group of South Korea's top security officials, according to reports by the Yonhap news agency. The envoys traveled to North Korea looking to pave the way for talks between the nuclear-armed North and the United States.

It is the first time Kim has met with South Korean officials.

The 10-member delegation is made up of five senior officials, including national security advisor Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon, and five supporting officials. The group is due to return to Seoul on Tuesday.

"We plan to hold in-depth discussions for ways to continue not only inter-Korean talks but dialogue between North Korea and the international community including the United States," said Chung, who is leading the delegation.

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The visit follows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister's landmark trip to the South in February for the Winter Olympics, where the North and South marched side-by-side under a unified flag at the opening ceremony.

Kim Yo Jong invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to a summit in Pyongyang on her brother's behalf, but Moon did not immediately accept, saying the right conditions were needed.

Passing on the message

"We will deliver President Moon's firm resolution to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and to create sincere and lasting peace," Chung told reporters before his departure.

Read more: Opinion: Kim Jong Un's Olympic Games

Moon used the Pyeongchang Games to start a dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang with the aim of easing tensions around nuclear arms that have heightened fears over global security.

Following the talks, the South Korean delegation is due to fly to Washington to relay the details from the meeting.

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No talks until denuclearization

Last year, despite UN sanctions, the North conducted its most powerful nuclear test and test-fired several missiles, some of them capable of reaching the US.

North Korean leader Kim and US President Donald Trump then traded threats of war and personal insults, further raising tensions between the two.

The US has said there will not be talks with North Korea unless it takes steps towards denuclearization, and late last month the US imposed what Trump called the "toughest ever" sanctions on North Korea.

law/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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