SEOUL, March 6 (UPI) — At a meeting on the Korean Peninsula Tuesday, Pyongyang leader Kim Jong Un said he’s willing to talk denuclearization with the United States — and stop testing missiles, Seoul officials said.
The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in also said Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold a peace summit in late April — which would be the first in over a decade.
“The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize,” Moon’s office said in a statement. “It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told South Korean envoys Pyongyang is willing to begin negotiations with the United States on abandoning its nuclear weapons, Seoul officials said.
South Korea’s national security chief, Chung Eui-yong, said the North is interested “in an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations.”
“The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the United States on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States,” Moon’s office said. “It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests.”
The statement marks the first time the North Korean leader has indicated he’s willing to give up nuclear weapons in exchange for U.S. security guarantees — a major step in Moon’s efforts to improve Korean relations.
South Korea has been pushing for dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang to broker peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as talks on dismantling the North’s nuclear program.
Representing South Korea during the two-day visit to Pyongyang were Moon’s top security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, National Intelligence Service Director Suh Joon, Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, and Yun Kyun-young, a presidential official on state affairs.
From the North Korean side were Kim Jong Un, his sister Kim Yo-jong and Workers’ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol.
Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol-ju and Ri Son-gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification joined the group for a banquet.
It was the first time South Korean officials set foot in the Workers’ Party headquarters, the South Korean presidential spokesman said.
The South Korean delegates are scheduled to hold follow-up discussions before returning to the South on Tuesday evening.
They will debrief to President Moon Jae-in before sharing the outcome of their trip with parliamentary leaders on Wednesday.
Chung and Suh will also visit Washington later in the week to share the results with U.S. officials.