Senior South Koreans to travel to North Korea to meet Kim

Vastavam web: The most senior South Koreans to travel to North Korea for more than a decade met leader Kim Jong Un Monday, a Seoul official said, the latest step in an Olympics-driven rapprochement on the divided peninsula.The delegation, representing the South’s President Moon Jae-in, is pushing for talks between the nuclear-armed regime and the United States, after Kim sent his sister Kim Yo Jong to the Winter Games in the South.Kim Yo Jong’s trip was the first visit to the South by a member of the North’s ruling dynasty since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and her appearance at the Games’ opening ceremony — where athletes from the two Koreas marched together — made global headlines.

Moon has sought to use the Pyeongchang Games to open dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in hopes of easing a nuclear standoff that has heightened fears over global security.Before leaving for Pyongyang, the South’s national security advisor Chung Eui-yong said: “We plan to hold in-depth discussions for ways to continue not only inter-Korean talks but dialogue between North Korea and the international community including the United States.”

It is a challenging task — in defiance of UN sanctions, the isolated and impoverished North last year staged its most powerful nuclear test and test-fired several missiles, some of them capable of reaching the US mainland.”We will deliver President Moon’s firm resolution to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and to create sincere and lasting peace,” delegation leader Chung told reporters.

Chung is one of five senior officials who flew to Pyongyang on Monday.It was the first ministerial-level South Korean visit to the North since December 2007, when Seoul’s then-intelligence chief travelled to Pyongyang.Today’s delegation included spy chief Suh Hoon, who is a veteran in dealings with the North. He is known to have been deeply involved in negotiations to arrange two previous inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency also announced their impending visit in a one-paragraph dispatch.The delegation will fly to the US on Wednesday to explain the result of the two-day trip to officials in Washington, according to the South’s presidential office.Moon, who advocates dialogue with the North’s nuclear-armed regime, said last week that Washington needs to “lower the threshold for talks” with Pyongyang.