In a rare letter to Seoul, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he wants more meetings next year with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The aim is "to solve the issue of denuclearizing the peninsula."
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a letter to Seoul voicing his desire to hold "frequent" meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2019, Moon's office said on Sunday.
In the letter, sent to mark the end of the year and underline a recent thaw in ties between the two Koreas, Kim "expressed a strong determination to visit Seoul while watching the future situation," Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters.
Kim Jong Un stated "an intention to meet with Moon frequently in 2019" to foster peace and "solve the issue of denuclearizing the [Korean] Peninsula together," the spokesman said.
Ties between the North and South took a decided turn for the better in 2018. Among other things, the Winter Olympics in South Korea's Pyeongchang in February saw a visit from Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader. It was the first time a member of the ruling Kim dynasty had visited the South since the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Subsequently, Kim Jong Un also held three summits with Moon.
A fourth summit that was to have been hosted in Seoul never materialized, something about which Kim Jong Un voiced "much regret" in his letter, according to Moon's spokesman.
Historic Singapore summit
In addition, Kim Jong Un had a historic meeting with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, at which the question of the North's nuclear weapons program topped the agenda.
Since that summit, however, progress on getting the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal has slowed, with Washington and Pyongyang accusing each other of breaching trust.
Critics say that Pyongyang has failed to make any substantive and concrete commitments to giving up its nuclear arms, while the North has been angered by the policy of isolation and sanctions practiced against it by the US.
However, Trump said last week he intended to hold a second summit with Kim, with officials saying it could occur early in 2019.