SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The rival Koreas on Thursday began preparatory talks to set up a summit later this month between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in amid a global diplomatic push to resolve tensions over the North’s nuclear program.
The meeting of working-level officials at the border village of Panmunjom was to discuss security, protocol and media coverage issues for the April 27 summit.
The Koreas after a high-level meeting last week agreed on the date of the summit. South Korean officials have said the summit will be focused on disarming North Korea of nuclear weapons, although the North hasn’t officially confirmed this through its state-run media.
A summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is anticipated by the end of May.
It may take more than one meeting for the Koreas to work out the details of the summit that will take place on the South Korea-controlled side of Panmunjom. The Koreas would need to agree on how Kim would arrive at the venue, including whether he would cross the military demarcation line that bisects the Koreas by foot in a symbolic gesture. The Koreas also need to determine how many times he and Moon would meet on that day and also whether parts of their meeting would be broadcast on live television.
The Koreas have held only two summits since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim last month made a surprise visit to Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping, which appeared to be aimed at improving both countries’ positions ahead of Kim’s planned summits with Moon and Trump.
In setting up separate talks with Beijing, Seoul, Washington, and potentially Moscow and Tokyo, North Korea may be moving to disrupt any united front among its negotiating counterparts. By reintroducing China, which is North Korea’s only major ally, as a major player, the North also gains leverage against South Korea and the United States, analysts say.