Koreas to hold talks before North-South Summit

North Korea on Saturday agreed to hold high-level talks on Thursday (March 29) to discuss logistics for a rare inter-Korean summit scheduled late next month, the South’s unification ministry said, as a diplomatic thaw on the peninsula deepened.

The two sides will send a three-member team each to the border truce village of Panmunjom (pictured)  for talks aimed at paving the way for the summit.

South Korea on Wednesday proposed the preparatory talks with the North to discuss the basic details including the summit’s dates and agenda.

The talks will be led by South’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his Northern counterpart, Ri Son-gwon.

The decision for a North-South dialogue, the first in over a decade, was taken in Pyongyang early March this year after South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy Chung Eui-yon led a four-member team in talks with North Korean officials. They also met the chairman Kim Jong-un.

North Korea said it is ready to abandon its nuclear programme if there is no military threat from outside and safety of its regime is ensured.

On Wednesday, the sate-run news agency KCNA rejected the western perception that the severity of sanctions had forced North Korea to the negotiating table.

The North-South Summit is expected to be followed by a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim by the end of May.

Ahead of the potential summit, Trump made two major administrative changes by appointing foreign policy hawk John Bolton as new national security advisor and CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. Whether these changes will help Trump to clinch the deal of the century is something one has to wait and see.

In the meantime, the US and South Korea are going ahead with their annual joint military drills next month.