The leader of North Korea hosted a dinner with the delegation from Seoul which, according to state media, proceeded in a “compatriotic and sincere atmosphere” and laid the ground for further dialogue and cooperation.
“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae In for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, [Kim Jong-un] exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday. However, no further details of the “agreement” were provided.
Kim Jong-un also reportedly reaffirmed his “firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification,” and instructed relevant authorities to “rapidly take practical steps” to accelerate the talks.
The sides also emphasized the importance of the new momentum in national reconciliation that was achieved during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
“The Winter Olympics served as a very important occasion in demonstrating the stamina and prestige of our nation at home and abroad and providing a good atmosphere of reconciliation, unity and dialogue between the north and the south,” Kim Jong-un said, according to the KCNA. However, the KCNA report failed to mention possible deliberations on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula or potential direct US-North Korean dialogue on the issue.
A South Korean 10-member delegation, led by National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong and Vice Unification Minister Kim Sang-gyun, arrived for a two-day visit to Pyongyang on Monday. The delegation was personally invited by the North Korean leader, who has signaled his willingness to improve inter-Korean relations. After Chung delivered Moon’s letter to Kim at 6:00 pm, the South Korean delegation began discussing the pressing issues with Kim Jong-un over a dinner meeting that lasted longer than four hours.
Besides the North Korean leader’s younger sister, Yo-jong, who traveled south last month to deliver her brother’s message for President Moon Jae-in, the dinner was also attended by Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, Yonhap reported. Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, was also present at the meeting.
The South Korean team is scheduled to have further talks with North Koreans on Tuesday, before heading home to Seoul. After Seoul, the South Korean delegation will visit the United States to brief US officials on the outcomes of their trip to North Korea.
“There were outcomes,” a senior South Korean presidential official said. “The outcomes are not disappointing. We believe the details will be announced after the envoys return to the South.”
The intra-Korean dialogue is taking shape amid an ongoing spat between Washington and Pyongyang. Despite the thaw in North-South relations, on February 23 the US announced that it was imposing its largest package of sanctions in an effort to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. US President Donald Trump recently warned of a possible “phase two” if sanctions imposed on North Korea do not have the desired effects.