North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-un will visit South Korea for bilateral talks, in an unprecedented act of diplomacy between the two nations still technically at war, according to the South Korean newspaper Joongang Daily.
The Korea Joongang Daily reports that Kim Jong-un will visit the South next month, when the two sides talks in the truce village of Panmunjom, making him the first North Korean leader to do so since the Korean War broke out in 1950.
The announcement came from the head of South Korea’s National Security Office, Chung Eui-yong, who just returned from a special envoy visit to Pyongyang to discuss bilateral relations and other concerns.
“A summit in April means that inter-Korean relations will keep up their momentum despite the exercises,” Chung said, alongside South Korean president Moon Jae-in. “The North said it no longer makes an issue out of the joint exercises, and that is also very important. We think it is an accomplishment that the timing was set for late April.”
“It is incredibly meaningful that the third summit will take place on the southern side of the Panmunjom,” he continued.
The envoy, tasked with building on the minor “thaw” that has taken place following the Winter Olympics, claimed to have made a breakthrough with Kim, who reportedly expressed his willingness to enter negotiations over denuclearization, being his father Kim Jong-il’s “dying wish.”
“Chairman Kim said that even denuclearization could be among the agenda items for talks between North Korea and the U.S.,” an unnamed official told Yonhap. “What drew our attention, in particular, is that he made clear that achieving denuclearization is his father’s dying wish and that it has not been changed at all.”
“Kim also didn’t specify anything special from South Korea or other countries in return for the North coming to dialogue but expressed an intent to be treated seriously as a counterpart for talks,” he added.
South Korean officials later confirmed such reports, saying that Kim would seek assurances about the security of his regime and leadership in exchange for denuclearization.
Attendees were also treated to a dinner reception and personal welcome from Kim himself, marking another significant step forward in relations following a Winter Olympics where the two countries marched under the same flag and fielded a joint ice hockey team.
During the Olympics, Kim Jong-un sent his sister Kim Yo-jong as part of the country’s official delegation, where she received positive reviews from the left-wing media, with CNN even awarding her the prize for “diplomatic gold.”
The news will also be received positively by Washington, with President Donald Trump declaring on Tuesday that the world was now “watching and waiting” for progress between the two sides.