SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting delegation from South Korea that it is his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties and “write a new history of national reunification,” the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.
“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae In for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, (Kim Jong Un) exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” said Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of the meeting that took place on Monday.
The agency did not provide details on what that agreement was.
A 10-member South Korean delegation led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, went to North Korea in hopes of encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk to one another. The two sides have stoked months of tension in the region, prompted by bellicose insults between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
North Korea has been developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the United States. Both Pyongyang and Washington say they want a diplomatic solution.
Seoul’s delegation met Kim Jong Un, his sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s wife and other officials on Monday, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the South’s presidential office.
The delegation will wrap up a two-day trip to Pyongyang later on Tuesday after another meeting with North Korean officials, the spokesman said.
The members of the delegation are the most senior South Korean government officials that have met with Kim Jong Un since the North Korean leader inherited the leadership from his father Kim Jong Il in late 2011.
Chung said at the Blue House on Monday before his departure that his team would deliver the South Korean president’s wish to bring about denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace.
Kim Jong Un gave orders for “practical steps” regarding the letter that was delivered to him from Moon via the delegation, KCNA said without elaborating.
“He also made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” the report said.
Both North Korea and the United States have said they are open to talks, but the U.S. position has been that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearisation, something Pyongyang has rejected.
The Pentagon nevertheless said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the North-South talks, which resumed in January for the first time in two years.
North Korea has vowed never to give up what it calls an essential deterrent against U.S. hostility. Pyongyang has not carried out any nuclear or missile tests since November last year.
By Christine Kim
(This version of the story has been refiled to correct date to March 6 from March 5)
(Reporting by Christine Kim; editing by Grant McCool)
The 21st Century