March 06, 2018 09:50
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hosted a dinner for a five-member South Korean delegation on Monday, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
The dinner with the delegation headed by National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon lasted for about four hours at Workers Party headquarters. Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju was also present.
Chung urged Kim to pursue dialogue with the U.S. about the scrapping of the North's nuclear weapons and delivered a personal letter from President Moon Jae-in about Kim's invitation to Pyongyang.
The delegation proposed a three-stage plan starting with dialogue with the U.S. after halting nuclear and missile tests, followed by discussions to scrap its nuclear weapons and destroy relevant facilities.
The proposal only sets a nuclear moratorium as the entry point for talks, drastically lowering the requirements from freezing the development program altogether.
The two sides talked about holding an inter-Korean summit at some point in the future, in addition to resuming reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and holding cross-border military talks.
The South Koreans also raised the release of three U.S. citizens who are incarcerated in the North.
The delegation left aboard a charter plane at around 2 p.m. on Monday and arrived in Pyongyang an hour later, where they headed to their accommodation in scenic Mount Kopang in Pyongyang, which overlooks an artificial lake and is used for rare VIP visitors.
They were greeted by Kim Yong-chol, head of the United Front Department, and Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. Both visited South Korea for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February.
Before departing for North Korea, Chung vowed to convey Moon's "determination to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and create lasting peace."
But Kim Yong-chol and other North Korean officials refrained from responding directly to the proposal.
The delegation will return to Seoul on Tuesday afternoon and travel to the U.S. as early as this weekend to brief U.S. President Donald Trump about their meeting with Kim Jong-un.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com