N. Korea's Kim invites S. Korean leader to summit in Pyongyang

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-02-10 16:45 Updated : 2018-02-13 15:47
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Aju News) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited President Moon Jae-in to a summit in Pyongyang, saying the reclusive leader is ready to hold talks with the South Korean leader at an early date, the president's office said Saturday.

The invitation was conveyed by Kim's younger sister, Yo-jong, who visited Moon's office with three other North Korean officials, a presidential spokesman said. The sister is the only member of the North's ruling family to visit Seoul, and she came south as a special envoy of her brother.

Yo-jong delivered Kim's letter that contained his willingness to improve inter-Korean relations and wanted Moon to visit North Korea at a convenient time, the spokesman said.

In what appeared to be a cautious tone, Moon suggested the two Koreas should work to "create the conditions" for a summit in the future, urging North Korea to actively pursue dialogue with the United States. "Early dialogue between North Korea and the United States is essential for the development of inter-Korean relations," the president was quoted as saying.

The meeting, which lasted for more than two hours, including a luncheon, was held in an amicable atmosphere and covered a wide range of issues, the spokesman said.

The two sides agreed to reactivate dialogue, exchanges and cooperation while Moon said North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics provided an opportunity for the two Koreas to ease tensions and improve relations, the spokesman said.

In the guestbook, Yo-jong wrote, "I expect Pyongyang and Seoul to get closer in the hearts of our nation and the future of prosperity and unification will be accelerated."

At talks with Moon, she suggested the South Korean leader should put a footprint in history as a leading figure in opening a new era of unification, according to the spokesman. "If President Moon meets Chairman Kim Jung-un and exchanges opinions on many issues, North-South relations can see fast development like yesterday was old," she was quoted as saying.

Saturday's meeting also involved Kim Yong-nam, the North's ceremonial head of state in charge of diplomacy, who headed a 22-member high-level delegation to the Olympics which kicked off on Friday.

The ceremonial leader said he felt "the joy of a bloodline" when he saw a joint march by South and North Korean athletes in the opening ceremony. "I hope that this year will be a milestone for the improvement of relations between North and South Korea."

What Moon said on Saturday caused confusion over whether he accepted Kim's proposal. Moon has said he would keep open the door for an inter-Korean summit if it is needed to improve cross-border relations and curb the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Otherwise, Moon promised to maintain his two-track approach to improve inter-Korean relations and realize denuclearization together, saying South Korea would not go its own way for any dramatic rapprochement with North Korea.

South Korea's late president Kim Dae-jung held a landmark summit with Kim Jong-un's late father, Kim Jong-il, in 2000 that opened an era of dramatic inter-Korean rapprochement, reconciliation and exchanges. The second summit was held in Pyongyang in 2007 between Kim Jong-il and South Korea's late president Roh Moo-hyun.