North and South Korea to Meet Next Week in Preparation for Summit Meeting in April

South Korean soldiers in Panmunjom, the so-called truce village that straddles the border with the North. Officials from both Koreas will meet there on Thursday, the South said.
Pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin

High-ranking officials from North and South Korea will meet on the countries’ border next week to prepare for the inter-Korean summit meeting planned for late next month, the South said on Saturday.

The officials will discuss the agenda for the meeting between President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Kim Jong-un, the North’s leader, the South’s Unification Ministry said in a statement. That summit meeting, which both sides have agreed to hold in late April, is expected to be followed within weeks by a meeting between Mr. Kim and President Trump.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will lead the South’s delegation to the talks next week, which will be held Thursday on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, the so-called truce village that straddles the border. The North’s delegation will be led by Ri Son-kwon, one of the senior North Korean officials who visited the South during the Winter Olympics last month, part of the stage-setting for the current détente between the Koreas after a year of high tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

The North on Saturday accepted the South’s proposal to meet at Panmunjom, the Unification Ministry statement said.

The Koreas agreed earlier this month that their leaders would meet in late April, on the South Korean side of Panmunjom. Soon afterward, Mr. Trump surprised much of the world by accepting Mr. Kim’s invitation to sit down for talks.

If that meeting indeed takes place, Mr. Trump will be the first-ever sitting American president to meet a North Korean leader. The North and the United States are still technically at war, because the Korean War was halted in 1953 with a truce rather than a peace treaty.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Choe Sang-Hun