For the first time ever since he assumed office, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met with South Korea officials. According to the North Korean state-run news agency (KCNA), he noted his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties so as to pursue the reunification.
On Monday, a 10-member delegation of high level South Korea officials led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong arrived in Pyongyang for a two-day reciprocal visit, hoping to persuade its Northern neighbor and the United States to sit at the table.
The tensions between the two Koreas had eased following Kim Jong-Un’s overture in New Year’s Eve, culminating in the two countries marching under a common flag during the opening and closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Moreover, Kim Jong-Un’s sister visited PyeongChang in the first official visit since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
KCNA further reports that Kim expressed his desire to “write a new history of national reunification” during a dinner he hosted on Monday night for the special envoy, that Seoul said lasted about four hours.
The North Korean leader extended a formal invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-In, for which the South Korean envoy expressed Moon’s intention to work towards. There is speculation that better inter-Korean ties could pave the way for Washington and Pyongyang to talk about the North’s nuclear weapons. The United States, however, has made clear that it doesn’t want empty talks and that all options, including military measures, are on the table.
If Moon accepts Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang it would be the third inter-Korean summit talk. The past two summits, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, were held between Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and two liberal South Korean presidents. They resulted in a series of cooperative projects between the Koreas that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in the South.