North and South Korea set date for leaders' summit

South Korea watching Kim Jong Un’s China trip ‘very closely

South Korea watching Kim Jong Un’s China trip ‘very closely

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung Gyon and Ri Son Gwon, the head of the North Korea's Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Fatherland, joined Thursday's meeting.

It will be their first meeting in a decade and just the third to ever take place between the two leaders.

The meeting between Kim Jong-un, leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, and the South's President Moon Jae-in will be only the third of its kind, and will be followed by landmark talks with USA president Donald Trump which could come as early as May.

In his recent visit to China, Kim reportedly stated North Korea's commitment to denuclearization was the country's "consistent stand", but in fact Pyongyang has always been paying lip-service to the idea of getting rid of nuclear weapons, just to blame the USA and its joint military drills with South Korea for its need to have a "nuclear deterrent".

Events have since moved rapidly, with a flurry of official visits between the two Koreas before Kim went to Beijing this week to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time.

US President Donald Trump, who earlier exchanged barbs with Kim, owing to North Korea's persistent missile tests, had last month accepted an invitation from the latter for a meet.

Tension over North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile surged past year and raised fears of USA military action in response to North Korean threat to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.

"As the date for the inter-Korean summit is finalized now, we will do our best to be fully prepared for it during the given time", Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, said in a text message.

In January, the North Korean government unexpectedly resumed communications with South Korea and agreed to talks, sending a team to South Korea's Winter Olympics.

Kim said on his trip to Beijing that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was starting to improve after Pyongyang took the initiative to ease tensions and proposed peace talks.

In the surest sign yet that Kim is intent on engaging in worldwide talks, the North Korean leader made his first foreign trip as leader to Beijing this week to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During his China trip, Kim again stated he wanted to "resolve" the issue of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, according to Chinese state media.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is learning how to make friends and influence people, but to what end remains to be seen.

"The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability, while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace".

It comes in sharp contrast to 2017 when the peninsula appeared to be barreling toward conflict, with Kim overseeing a string of missile and nuclear tests and Trump promising "fire and fury" as Pyongyang threatened Guam, Hawaii and even the U.S. mainland. Intentions to work towards a peace treaty were expressed in the previous inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, but did not produce an official agreement.

Senior negotiators met Thursday to discuss the specifics of the historic summit.

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