August 13, 2018 09:26
Officials from the two Koreas meet in the border truce village of Panmunjom on Monday to discuss the next summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The summit is expected to take place in Pyongyang later this month or in early September. Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters on Sunday that the officials are highly likely to agree on the date and venue.
Working-level officials from the two sides apparently laid much of the groundwork in earlier talks through official and unofficial channels.
"If we skip unnecessary protocol the summit could take place in late August" before everything comes to a halt as the North Korean regime celebrates its 70th anniversary on Sept. 9. That opens up a window after reunions of families separated by the Korean War on Aug. 20-26.
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon and Kim's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol have been discussing the timing and venue already, a diplomatic source said. "Monday's high-level talks aim to prepare a draft agreement for the summit rather than fine-tuning opinions."
Seoul hopes to mediate a breakthrough in stalled denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S.
"We expect that the summit will facilitate North Korea-U.S. talks and they will in turn contribute to speeding up progress in inter-Korean relations," the spokesman said. One goal is declaring a formal end to the Korean War, which was halted by an armistice in 1953.
Washington has cautioned against undue haste but could be persuaded if North Korea takes concrete steps toward denuclearization.
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