South and North Korea kicked off high-level talks Monday to discuss holding a third summit between their leaders.
The meeting started at around 10 a.m. on the North Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom, said the South’s Ministry of Unification, which oversees inter-Korean affairs.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon is leading South Korea’s four-member delegation, which includes Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, Nam Gwan-pyo, a senior director from the presidential National Security Office, and director-general Ahn Moon-hyun from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The North’s delegation is headed by Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country. He is accompanied by Vice Railroad Minister Kim Yun-hyok, Pak Ho-yong, vice minister for land and environmental protection, and Pak Yong-il, vice chairman of the reunification committee.
“(We) will discuss the overall implementation status of the Panmunjom Declaration and things that will be carried out going forward,” Cho told reporters before departing for the talks, referring to the agreement reached in the historic April summit.
“Views will be exchanged as well with regard to the autumn summit meeting agreed upon in the declaration,” he added.
The main agenda of the meeting is expected to be the hammering out of details, especially the date and venue for what would be a third meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The Panmunjom Declaration, reached between Moon and Kim during their first meeting in April, states that Moon agreed to visit Pyongyang in the fall.
Addressing the progress on implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration is also likely to be a key discussion topic. Given North Korea’s list of delegates, experts have expressed concerns the meeting may serve as a platform for the North to pressure the South to take bold steps for inter-Korean economic cooperation, despite international sanctions that remain intact.
Monday's talks come amid growing worries of a perceived stagnation in the US-North Korea talks for denuclearization.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)