Koreas hold high-level talks
Progress on family reunification, Asian Games
North Korea and South Korea held high-level talks Friday to discuss their ongoing efforts to improve ties ahead of a landmark meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The North-South discussions were originally scheduled for earlier this month but were abruptly called off by Pyongyang in response to a joint US-South Korea air force drill.
But a day after “Max Thunder” ended May 25, the North’s leader Kim had a surprise summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border truce village of Panmunjom – their second, following a historic first meeting in April.
The two Koreas agreed to hold more meetings throughout this month to carry out the agreements reached between their leaders at the April summit, according to a joint statement after Friday’s talks.
A round of general-level military talks will be held on June 14 to discuss ways to ease tensions and a Red Cross meeting to plan a reunion for war-separated families is scheduled for June 22.
Officials from the two sides will also meet on June 18 to discuss the prospects of fielding a joint team for the Jakarta Asian Games in August.
The high-level meeting comes as a flurry of diplomacy is underway to lay the groundwork for a historic June 12 summit between Kim and Trump.
In Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un recommitted North Korea to “denuclearization,” boosting hopes of what would be an extraordinary diplomatic turn-around just a week after Trump threatened to cancel preparations.
Since that short-lived crisis, diplomats in both countries have conducted an intense flurry of talks, culminating on Thursday when Pompeo sat down in New York with Kim’s envoy.
Pompeo suggested things are moving in the right direction.
“It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong-un if we were able to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to change the course for the world,” he said.
“President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kind of decisions, and in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case.”
Kim’s right-hand man, Kim Yongchol, was set to deliver a personal letter from Kim to Trump Friday following talks in New York with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which made what the US diplomat called “real progress” toward the planned summit in Singapore.