SEOUL, March 7 (UPI) — Dialogue between the United States and North Korea could precede the inter-Korean summit in April, a South Korean presidential official said.
After President Moon Jae-in’s chief envoy to Pyongyang announced that North Korea is willing to hold talks with Washington and consider denuclearization, a senior official of Moon’s office told reporters Wednesday that the two Koreas plan to hold working-level discussions to follow up on the agreements.
“It was agreed that a hotline will be installed between the two heads of state and working-level talks will be held through the Ministry of Unification as our Taekwondo demonstration team and a cultural troupe will visit Pyongyang,” he said, according to Kookmin Ilbo.
Regarding U.S.-North Korea talks, the official said Seoul believes North Korea met the preconditions that Washington set by showing the willingness to dismantle its nuclear program and halt provocations during the period of dialogue.
“The United States has maintained that the term ‘denuclearization’ is needed for talks and it appears the North has responded to that,” he said. “It seems to us that the conditions have been met for North Korea-U.S. talks.”
The official also affirmed that such dialogue may take place before a summit between South and North Korea scheduled in April, KBS reported.
Moon’s chief envoy and national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and intelligence chief Suh Hoon will leave for Washington on Thursday, he added.
Meeting with various U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, Chung and Suh will share the outcome of their two-day visit to Pyongyang during which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to talk and denuclearize.
Chung told reporters he had an additional, undisclosed message from the North for the U.S.
“We cannot reveal everything to the media, but we do have additional views of North Korea we will relay to the United States when we visit the U.S.,” he said, according to Yonhap.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed optimism regarding the developments, saying “statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive,” Channel News Asia reported.
“I think that they are sincere. And I think they’re sincere also because of the sanctions and what we’re doing with respect to North Korea, including the great help that we’ve been given from China,” he said at a news conference Tuesday.
He, however, declined to comment on whether he had any preconditions for dialogue.
Trump had earlier welcomed progress in inter-Korean talks on his Twitter page.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!” He tweeted.