Officials from the two Koreas on Thursday agreed that a planned summit between ROK President Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un will take place on April 27, a joint statement by Pyongyang and Seoul announced.
The news followed a high-level inter-Korean meeting at Tongilgak, on the northern part of Panmunjom, which began at 1003 KST.
“The South and the North agreed to hold the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit on April 27 at the Peace House of Panmunjeom, in accordance with the will of the leaders,” a unification ministry translation of the joint statement reads.
A three-member delegation led by South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon crossed into the North on Thursday morning for the talks, accompanied by Vice Minister of Unification Chun Hae-sung, and Senior Presidential Secretary for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan.
Pyongyang, too, dispatched a three-person delegation led by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC). Vice chairman of the CPRC Jon Jong Su and CPRC director Kim Myong Il also attended.
An official from the Ministry of Unification (MOU) reported the two exchanged opinions on various issues, including the date of the summit, “open-heartedly” at a general meeting which lasted until 1053 KST.
Following morning talks, the two delegations held another meeting between 1235 and 1257 KST – which Cho and Ri did not attend. Three further meetings were then held ahead of the release of the joint statement.
The two Koreas have also reportedly agreed to hold working-level talks on April 4 on the southern part of Panmunjom to discuss issues related to the protocol, security, and media coverage of the summit.
“The South and the North will continue to discuss other practical issues which might be raised by means of exchanging documents,” the statement added.
Seoul last week proposed that the two Koreas on Thursday agree on the agenda for the upcoming summit – though today’s joint statement featured no information about what will be discussed when Kim and Moon meet.
South Korea’s preparatory committee for the summit previously said Seoul would prepare for the meeting focusing on three points: “the denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, a permanent peace settlement including easing military tensions dramatically, and fresh and bold progress in South-North relations.”
Speaking at a news conference following Thursday’s meeting, Minister Cho said the two Koreas had “fully” shared opinions on summit-related issues, including on the agenda for the summit.
The minister said the North’s opinion on the agenda was “not so different” from South Korea’s, adding that the two Koreas have agreed to enable the two leaders to have “honest and open-hearted talks” and “fully discuss all the issues.”
“As these agenda will be discussed between the leaders, we shared the view that it’s better to shape the issue after discussing thoroughly while having more time,” Cho told pool reporters at Panmunjom.
The two will continue to discuss the agenda for the summit, and may hold another round of high-level inter-Korean talks in April “if necessary.”
When asked why the agenda wasn’t included in the joint statement, the DPRK’s Ri Son Gwon didn’t provide a direct answer.
“Regarding the issue of agenda, we are dealing with all the issues related to inter-Korean relations,” he told press.
A two-day trip to Pyongyang by a ROK delegation earlier in the month saw the two Koreas agree to hold a historic third inter-Korean summit in late April at the Peace House on the southern part of Panmunjom.
The meeting also led to an agreement to establish a hotline between Moon and Kim in the near future, and the two leaders are set to hold a phone call ahead of the summit.
The two Koreas will hold working-level talks on the hotline in the near-future, with the venue and date of the meeting to be decided later.
April’s meeting will be the first between a North Korean leader and a South Korean President since 2007, when the late Roh Moo-hyun met the late Kim Jong Il.
It will also represent, technically, the first time a North Korean leader has entered South Korea.
A high-level inter-Korean meeting on January 9 – the first of its kind in years – saw the DPRK’s Ri express “strong dissatisfaction” that South Korea had raised the issue of Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and ballistic missiles.
Minister Cho on Thursday said, however, that the issue of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula had been discussed as “the most important issue” at the January 9 meeting and at recent exchanges of special envoys between the two Koreas.
Thursday’s inter-Korean meeting followed a summit in Beijing between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the week.
The trip was the North Korean leader’s first since taking power, and the first between a DPRK leader and a Chinese President since 2011.
During the talks, President Xi accepted an invitation from the DPRK leader to visit the North at a “convenient time.”
The talks also came amid reports suggesting that Japan might seek a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong Un.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi arrived in South Korea on Thursday as a “Special Representative” of Xi, for a two-day visit in which he will debrief officials in Seoul on China-North Korea summit.
Yang is due to hold meetings with head of the presidential National Security Office (NSO) Chung Eui-yong, who met Xi earlier this month to brief him on a then-recent visit by South Korean special envoys to Pyongyang and Washington.
President Moon Jae-in will also receive a courtesy visit from Yang on Friday.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Joint Press Corps
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