Kim Jong-un to meet S. Korean leader at April summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the North Korean Army
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the North Korean Army Reuters

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to hold a summit of their leaders in April, South Korean President Moon Jae-in's top security adviser said on Tuesday after a rare trip to Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also agreed to hold "candid" talks with the US about the denuclearisation issue of the Korean peninsula and normalise the countries' bilateral ties, Chung Eui-yong told a press briefing.

The inter-Korean summit between Moon and Kim will be held at the joint security area of Panmunjeom. The announcement, which was not widely expected, followed Chung's two-day trip to Pyongyang as Moon's special envoy, Yonhap news agency reported.

While in Pyongyang, Chung and four other South Korean envoys held an unprecedented meeting with the reclusive North Korean leader.

"The South and the North have agreed to set up a hotline between their leaders to allow close consultations and a reduction of military tension, while also agreeing to hold the first phone conversation before the third South-North summit," Chung said.

North Korea also restated its commitment to rid itself of nuclear weapons, according to Chung.

"Chairman Kim said the denuclearisation issue may be discussed as an agenda for the North-US dialogue," he told reporters.

"What we must especially pay attention to is the fact that (he) has clearly stated that the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was an instruction of his predecessor and that there has been no change to such an instruction."

From the onset of his two-day trip to North Korea, Chung said his mission included persuading the North to resume its dialogue with the US, which the South Korean President earlier called a "prerequisite to restarting international negotiations on ending the North's nuclear ambition".

Both Washington and Pyongyang had expressed their willingness to talk, but the US had remained rather sceptical of the North's intentions in improving its ties with the South, saying US-North Korea dialogue would only be held under the right conditions.

The North Korean leader assumed power after his father, Jong-il, died in late 2011.

Chung said the North also promised to suspend all military provocations, including nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, as long the US-North Korea talks progress.

"In addition, the North promised not to use not only nuclear weapons but also conventional weapons against the South," he added.

North Korea has staged 10 ballistic missile launches since Moon took office in May 2017. It also conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test so far in September.

The recent rapprochement between the two Koreas followed the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue to discuss the North's participation in the Winter Olympic Games. The talks were the first of their kind in more than two years. (IANS)