Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 1 News List

S Korean delegation heads to N Korea today


South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s press secretary Yoon Young-chan speaks during a news conference at the Blue House in Seoul yesterday.

Photo: AP

South Korea’s president will send a delegation led by his national security director to North Korea today for talks on how to ease nuclear tensions and help arrange the restart of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, officials said yesterday.

They would be the first known South Korean special envoys to travel to Pyongyang in about 10 years.

Their trip comes amid a rare moment of goodwill between the rivals stemming from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The 10-member delegation headed by South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong is to fly to Pyongyang this afternoon for a two-day visit that includes talks with unidentified senior North Korean officials.

The discussions will deal with how to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, improve ties between the Koreas and foster an environment to realize the resumption of talks between Pyongyang and Washington, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said.

After its Pyongyang trip, the delegation is to visit Washington to brief US officials about its talks with the North Korean officials, senior presidential official Yoon Young-chan said at a televised news conference.

He said the delegation would include South Korean National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.

US officials have said North Korea must take serious disarmament steps before talks can restart, and North Korea has insisted it will not place its nuclear program on the negotiating table.

South Korea has sent special envoys to Pyongyang in the past to reach breakthrough deals aimed at reducing animosities and securing higher-level talks. The Koreas’ two past summit talks, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, were both held after ranking South Korean officials went to Pyongyang and worked out details of the summits in advance.

The last known South Korean special envoy to travel to Pyongyang was the nation’s intelligence chief, who visited a few months before the 2007 summit.

During the recently concluded Olympics, the two Koreas fielded their first joint Olympic squad in women’s ice hockey and had their athletes parade together during the opening ceremony.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also sent senior officials, including his influential younger sister, to the start and close of the Games, and they met Moon and conveyed Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang for what would be the third inter-Korean summit.

Those North Korean officials also told Moon that they were willing to restart talks with the US.

US President Donald Trump responded by saying talks will happen only “under the right conditions.”

Moon has yet to accept Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang.

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