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Moon Jae-in and Kim Yo Jong
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. Ju-sung

Pyongyang offers to hold summit with South Korea

February 10, 2018

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has delivered a personal letter to South Korea's president, inviting him to a summit in Pyongyang. The overture follows heightened tensions over the North's missile tests.


In the latest signal of thawing ties, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday invited South Korean President Moon Jae-In to Pyongyang, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The overture was conveyed by Kim’s sister, Yo Jong, who is currently in the South to attend the Winter Olympics.

She made the invitation during a rare lunch meeting between representatives from the two rival neighbors at Seoul’s presidential palace.

As well as the North Korean leader’s sibling, Moon met the elderly Kim Yong Nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, during the appointment at the Blue House.

Read more: In Seoul, Germany's Steinmeier warns Koreas that reunification needed luck, and hard work

Personal letter

Kim Yo Jong carried a blue folder adorned with a seal, which was later confirmed to have contained a private message from Kim Jong Un himself.

"Special envoy Kim Yo Jong delivered a personal letter" from her brother stating his "wish to improve inter-Korean relations," said Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

In response, Moon suggested the two Koreas "make it happen" by creating conditions necessary for him to accept the invitation, the spokesman told a news briefing.

If the summit goes ahead it will be the third of its kind, after previous talks between the leaders of the two neighboring countries in 2000 and 2007.

Back from the brink

It had been speculated that Pyongyang might invite Moon to visit later this year after North Korea was given permission to send athletes to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, a rare sign of more cordial relations between the two halves of the Korean peninsula.

Tensions reached new highs recently, particularly after Pyongyang last year began testing rockets capable of reaching the US mainland and detonated its most powerful nuclear device to date.

As a result of repeated breaches of international restrictions by its nuclear and ballistics program, the North has been subject to several rounds of United Nations sanctions. Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.

Read more: North Korea cables reveal East Germany's suspicion of Kim regime

Moon had already shaken hands with Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday in Pyeongchang. They cheered together as athletes from North and South entered the arena together behind a unification flag that shows a united Korean peninsula.

Although US Vice President Mike Pence was seated in the same box, neither the US or North Korean parties acknowledged each other at any point.  

mm,rc/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)