Seoul: The leaders of North and South Korea will hold a historic summit in the Demilitarized Zone next month after Pyongyang expressed willingness to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees, Seoul said on Tuesday.
The North is open to “frank” talks with the United States on denuclearisation and would suspend missile and nuclear tests while dialogue was under way, the South’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said after returning from a meeting in Pyongyang with leader Kim Jong Un.
Mr Chung said Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in would meet in late April at the fortified border village of Panmunjom for what would be only the third inter-Korean summit since the end of the 1950-53 Korean conflict.
He said the two sides would establish a leader-to-leader hotline, offering the highest-level contact between two nations that are technically still at war.
North Korea is subject to multiple rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its atomic and ballistic missile programmes, and has long insisted that its “treasured sword” is not up for negotiation. But it is willing to abandon the programmes if its national security — and that of its leadership — is guaranteed, Mr Chung said. That remains a high threshold — Pyongyang has considered itself at risk of invasion by the United States since the Korean War ended in a ceasefire in 1953.
But, Mr Chung said, Mr Kim is willing to discuss denuclearisation in talks with Washington — which could be the crucial concession needed to enable a dialogue to happen.
The US has long insisted that Pyongyang take concrete steps towards denuclearisation as a precondition.
Tuesday’s developments are the latest steps in a rapid Olympics-driven rapprochement on the peninsula. They follow a year of high tensions during which Pyongyang carried out its most powerful nuclear test to date, along with multiple missile launches, including rockets capable of reaching the US mainland.