South Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to send a special envoy to North Korea soon to set up more meaningful dialogue between the rivals that Seoul hopes will eventually include discussions over disarming the North of nuclear weapons. Seoul’s presidential office said Moon revealed the plans to President Donald Trump in a 30-minute telephone conversation late Thursday. The office did not say how Trump reacted to the plans.
North Korean officials visiting the South for the recently concluded Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have said leader Kim Jong Un wants to hold a summit with Moon and that North Korea aims to open talk with the United States.
North Korea sent around 500 people to the Olympics, including high-level officials, athletes, artists, journalists and cheerleaders in part of conciliatory gestures with the South that brought a temporary lull to tensions surrounding the North’s nuclear program.
Experts say the North’s outreach over the Olympics shows its ambition to break out of diplomatic isolation and pressure by improving relations with the South and using that as a bridge to approach the United States.
Visiting as a special envoy, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, told Moon that her brother wishes to meet Moon in North Korea soon. Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, during his talks with Moon said the North has “ample intentions” for holding talks with the United States.
Moon has yet to firmly commit to a summit, saying that the Koreas must first create an “environment” for that to happen. Trump has responded to North Korea’s overture by saying that talks with North Korea will happen only if conditions are right. The U.S. has said North Korea must make a clear commitment to eliminating its nuclear and missile programs before any talks can take place.