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South and North Korea agree to hold joint summit

March 6, 2018

The two Koreas have agreed to hold a joint summit and set up a telephone hotline between their respective leaders. The North said it was willing to abandon its nuclear arsenal if its security is guaranteed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Chung Eui-yong, head of the presidential National Security Office, in Pyongyang, North Korea
Image: Reuters/Yonhap

South Korea on Tuesday said it has agreed with North Korea to hold a joint summit in late April and to set up a telephone hotline between their leaders.

South Korea's presidential national security director, Chung Eui-yong, also said the North had agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons if military threats against the country were resolved and if it received a credible security guarantee.

The talks will take place at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Panmunjom border village and will be the first North-South summit in more than a decade.

Read more: Top South Korea security officials talk nuclear in North

Abandoning nuclear tests

Chung said Pyongyang agreed to halt tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the US and that it was ready to have "heart-to-heart" talks with Washington.

The US talks would focus on potential denuclearization and the normalization of relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

"The North made clear its willingness for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and made clear that there is no reason to own nuclear (programs) if military threats towards the North are cleared and the security of its regime is guaranteed," Chung said.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (L), his wife Kim Jung-sook (2ndL), US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (2ndR) and North Korean General Kim Yong Chol (back R) at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
A warming of relations between the North and the South was highlighted during the winter OlympicsImage: Getty Images/AFP/A. Zhao

Envoys lay the groundwork

Five South Korean envoys, including security advisor Chung, met with North Korean leaders in Pyongyang on Monday to lay the groundwork for potential peace talks between the two neighbors and the US. 

It was first time North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had met high-ranking officials from the South since taking office in 2011. 

Kim reacted positively to the idea of a summit floated at the meeting, both sides said earlier Tuesday.

North Korea's state media KCNA said Kim expressed his desire to "write a new history of national reunification."

There have been recent moves toward rapprochement between the two Koreas, highlighted during the winter Olympics held in the South in February, during which both countries made tentative gestures that they would sanction joint talks.

Both North Korea and the US have said they are willing to hold talks, but Washington's position has been that they must be aimed at North Korea's denuclearization.

North Korea 'acting positively'

US President Donald Trump said North Korea "seems to be acting positively" after Pyongyang's overture to hold denuclearization talks.

"The statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive," Trump said.

"We have come a long way at least rhetorically with North Korea. It would be a great thing for the world, it would be a great thing for North Korea, it would be a great thing for the peninsula, but we will see what happens," he said in the Oval Office.

Trump added that the situation on the Korean peninsula could not be allowed to "fester."

Earlier, Trump had tweeted that the progress in talks with North Korea could also be a "false hope."

Chung and the South's intelligence chief Suh Hoon are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief US officials on their discussions in the North.

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aw/jm (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)