South Korea Pushes for Summit Preparation Talks with North Korea

David Song, March 16, 2018, 8:41 a.m.

South Korea will propose holding high-level talks with North Korea late this month to work out the details of a planned summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Moon's chief of staff said Friday. Presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok, who chairs the summit preparation committee, also said the South plans to name Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon to be the chief delegate to the preparatory talks with the North.

"First, we will officially propose high-level talks right away," Im said after the committee's first meeting. Moon and Kim are scheduled to meet on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjeom in late April in what will be the third inter-Korean summit after two previous meetings in 2000 and 2007.

"We confirmed in the (committee) meeting that this inter-Korean summit should be a turning point for fundamentally addressing the issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula," Im told reporters.

"For this, we decided to make preparations with a focus on agenda items for bringing permanent peace, including denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a dramatic reduction of military tensions, and for making fresh, bold progress in inter-Korean relations," he said.

Im said the upcoming summit is expected to be a one-day meeting because the venue is the border village. The two previous summits took place in Pyongyang for three days and included not only talks but also other side events, but the border village is considered unfit for such auxiliary events.

"I think holding talks at Panmunjeom is very efficient in terms of security and all other aspects, rather than us visiting the North or inviting them to the South," Im said.

Asked about the possibility of the two Koreas holding summits on a regular basis, Im said he hopes next month's summit will not just be a one-off meeting but will ultimately lead to a new form of Panmunjeom talks between the two sides.

In an effort to collect opinions from various parts of society, the committee also decided to form an advisory group comprising some 30-40 people, with former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won heading the group, Im said.

Im said he believes it would be good if Moon holds talks with U.S. President Donald Trump after the inter-Korean summit so as to brief Trump on the results of the talks with the North's leader and discuss the way forward ahead of Trump's meeting with Kim.

Im also said the South will push to send an art troupe and a taekwondo demonstration team to the North in early April. Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan will lead the delegation, and the South plans to hold talks on cultural performances with the North at the border village next week, Im said.

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