North Korea on Thursday announced that its leader Kim Jong-un would meet the South’s President Moon Jae-in on April 27 during a rare inter-Korean summit in the Panmunjom truce village near the demilitarised zone, AFP reported.
The decision was taken following a high-level meeting between the two sides, and came days after Kim made a surprise visit to China. Beijing on Wednesday announced that Kim, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, had committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
The meeting between Kim and Moon would be only the third of its kind, and would make Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the cessation of hostilities between the two countries in 1953.
This would set the stage for the North Korean leader’s meeting with United States President Donald Trump, which is likely to be held in May. This diplomatic push to bring Pyongyang to the table comes months after the tension between the two countries ratcheted up because of Pyongyang’s efforts to boost its nuclear weapons programme.
Meanwhile, Japan and North Korea too have discussed the possibility of a bilateral summit in Pyongyang in June, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Thursday. The leaders of the North Korean Workers’ Party have reportedly been briefed about the possibility of a meeting between Kim Jong-un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The diplomatic initiative was mentioned in a document used in “study sessions” that North Korea’s ruling party conducts for high-ranking officials. The document outlines the separate foreign policy initiatives to be taken when dealing with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
“The Japanese government has recently indicated an interest in holding a summit meeting with North Korea through communications going through the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan,” the document states, referring to a pro-North Korea organisation in Tokyo that serves as Pyongyang’s de facto embassy. The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.