Rival Korean leaders to meet April 27 in historic summit

Trump Announces Trade Deal Wednesday, Threatens to Change His Mind on Thursday

Rival Korean leaders to meet April 27 in historic summit

Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, one of the three South Korean participants in Thursday's talks, told reporters beforehand that setting up discussions between the leaders on ways to rid the North of its nuclear weapons would be a critical point.

Kim Jong Un picked China as his first country to visit as North Korea's supreme leader, apparently aiming to improve ties between Pyongyang and Beijing in the run-up to envisioned summits with the South Korean and USA leaders.

He was referring to the whirlwind of regional and global diplomacy sparked by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year's broadcast, which led to intense inter-Korean politicking on the sidelines of the Pyongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea. That commitment was reported by Chinese state media, although North Korea's official media made no mention of it, or Mr Kim's anticipated meeting with Mr Trump.

Robert Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, said: "Xi would not grant this meeting unless the Chinese were genuinely concerned about the summits to come and wanted some kind of role to play".

North Korean official Ri Son Gwon after the meeting hailed the agreement over the summit he said provides "immense expectations and new hope for the entire nation that desires for peace on the Korean Peninsula".

The government of Kim Jong-un has informed leaders of North Korea's ruling Korean Workers Party of the possibility of summits with Japan, Russia and other countries, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified North Korean source and briefing papers.

Tension over North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile surged a year ago and raised fears of US military action in response to North Korean threat to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.

A detailed agenda for the April 27 talks was not set, with Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country simply saying - according to TV reports - that "everything" would be on the table.

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Even more surprising was Kim's pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. During this meeting, Kim agreed to meet with Moon towards the end of April.

South Korea has also said that its northern neighbor is ready for "denuclearization", the likely subject of both the April 27 and Trump meetings, though North Korea has previously pegged any such move to the removal of American troops from the South.

In a surprisingly short meeting held at Panmunjeom, inside the Demilitarized Zone, on Thursday, senior officials from both Koreas agreed on a date for a summit between their respective leaders.

During the talks, President Xi accepted an invitation from the DPRK leader to visit the North at a "convenient time". North Korea also wants Beijing to resist tougher sanctions if the talks with Washington and Seoul fall apart and the North resumes testing missiles.

"President Xi exchanged opinions with Kim Jong Un over a long period of time", Yang said through a translator in his meeting with Chung. The Chinese envoy is also scheduled to meet President Moon on Friday.

Kim said on his trip to Beijing that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was starting to improve after Pyongyang took the initiative to ease tensions and proposed peace talks.

It's unclear whether the leaders' meetings will lead to any meaningful breakthrough.

An advance team of Southern performers headed north on Thursday ahead of K-pop concerts in Pyongyang.

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