North Korea willing to talk to US about giving up nuclear weapons, Seoul says
North Korea is willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons, South Korea said Tuesday, in a remarkable development that followed unprecedented talks in Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has also agreed to refrain from conducting nuclear and missile tests while engaging in dialogue with South Korea, Seoul’s national security chief Chung Eui-yong said after returning from a meeting with Kim.
Chung said Pyongyang expressed willingness to talk to the United States “in an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations with North Korea.”
North Korea clarified that it had no reason to retain nuclear weapons if “the military threat to North Korea is resolved” and the country’s security can be guaranteed, Chung said.
It was a startling statement by a nation that only months ago declared it could wipe the United States off the face of the Earth.
It also represents a significant diplomatic accomplishment for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who used the Winter Olympic Games to engineer a thaw in relations with the North that had previously seemed a distant prospect.
As part of the dialogue, the two Korean leaders would hold a summit next month, the first of its kind in more than a decade, Chung said.
The last inter-Korean summit was in 2007, when South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met Kim’s father, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
The April summit will be held at the Panmunjom Peace House on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries, Chung said.
Pyongyang and Seoul will also open a communication hotline that will enable Kim and Moon to speak directly.
Moon sent Chung and four other top government officials to Pyongyang Monday, when they met with Kim and some of his top aides.
It’s believed to be the first time the young North Korean leader has ever met with any officials from South Korea since taking power in 2011.