NORTH KOREA and South Korea agreed on Tuesday to hold high-level inter-Korea talks on May 16 to discuss steps needed to uphold the pledge to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
The meeting will discuss specific plans needed to carry out the April 27 inter-Korea summit declaration, which includes pledges to finally end a seven-decade war this year, and pursue “complete denuclearisation”.
“The South and North will hold a high-level inter-Korea meeting on May 16 in the Peace House in Panmunjom, to discuss implementation of ‘Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” the Unification Ministry said in a statement.
The move comes just one month before the highly-anticipated summit between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
North Korea promised to officially dismantle its nuclear test site and have invited foreign media to attend the ceremony scheduled for later this month.
State authorities will put the site out of operation by using explosives to collapse the tunnels used for testing between 23 and 25 May, the foreign ministry said in a statement on the official KCNA website.
In a flurry of diplomacy ahead to the Trump meeting, Kim also made two surprise trips to China to meet with President Xi Jinping, the latest of which was last week.
Kim flew to the Chinese port city of Dalian and held talks “in a cordial and friendly atmosphere” with Xi over two days before returning to Pyongyang on Tuesday, China’s state news agency Xinhua said in announcing the trip. It is the second meeting between the two leaders in about 40 days, and was kept secret until Kim had left China.
In a sign of “good will,” North Korea released three American prisoners on Thursday. Trump thanked Kim as he welcomed the trio at Joint Base Andrews air force base in Maryland.
“We want to thank Kim Jong Un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people,” he said.
Wednesday’s inter-Korea talks will see North Korea send a 29-member delegation led by Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the ‘Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the country’. Also in the delegation will be Kim Yun-hyok, vice minister of Railways, and Won Kil-U, vice minister of Physical Culture and Sports.
From South Korea, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon will led a team of five.
Additional reporting by Reuters.