South Korean President Moon Jae-in will travel to North Korea from Sept. 18-20 for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Moon's special envoy said Thursday, one day after his trip to the communist state.
"First, the South and the North agreed to hold a South-North Korean summit in Pyongyang between Sept. 18-20, and to hold high-level negotiations early next week to prepare for the summit," Chung Eui-yong said of his one-day trip to the North Korean capital.
Chung, head of the presidential National Security Office, led a five-member delegation to Pyongyang that also included the director of the National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon.
It will be the third Moon-Kim summit. They first met in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27, then again on May 26.
Chung said the upcoming summit will review the implementation of the inter-Korean summit agreement reached at the leaders' first meeting in Panmunjom.
"The countries agreed to review the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and discuss the future direction of its implementation, and to discuss practical ways to establish lasting peace and ensure joint prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, especially denuclearize the Korean Peninsula," he told a nationally televised press conference.
The North Korean leader reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearization, also promising to continue working with the United States to that end.
"Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and expressed his willingness to closely cooperate with not only South Korea but also the United States to that end," the top security adviser to the South Korean president said.
Wednesday's trip by the South Korean delegation was largely aimed at setting the date for the third Moon-Kim summit, but it was also expected to focus on removing a stumbling block in denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.
The talks have apparently stalled after U.S. President Donald Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by his top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called a lack of progress in the North's denuclearization process.
Kim disagreed with that assessment, saying the denuclearization steps taken by his country so far are very significant and meaningful, according to Chung.
Kim noted the dismantlement of his country's only known nuclear test site in Punggye-ri has left the country with no means to stage any more nuclear tests.
He even expressed regret that the international community does not appreciate such meaningful steps taken by his country, the South Korean envoy said.
The North Korean leader asked the envoy to deliver his message to the United States, Chung said, refusing to discuss any specifics of the message.
Still, the South Korean envoy quoted the North Korean leader as saying he hoped to completely denuclearize and end the hostile relationship between his country and the U.S. before Trump's first term ends in January 2021.
"(Chairman Kim) said his faith in President Trump remains unchanged. He made that clear," Chung said.
"Chairman Kim especially stressed that he has never talked negatively about President Trump to his staff or anyone else. And he said he hoped to end 70 years of hostile relationship between North Korea and the U.S. and realize denuclearization by improving the North-U.S. relationship within Trump's first term," he added.
Pyongyang is believed to be demanding a quid pro quo for its denuclearization steps that many believe include a formal end to the Korean War.
The two Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 war ended only with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Moon and Kim agreed to formally end the war before the year's end when they first met in Panmunjom, but many here and in the United States have voiced their opposition to the move, claiming a formal end of the war may greatly weaken the need for the U.S. to maintain tens of thousands of American service members on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim insisted that formally ending the Korean War had nothing to do with U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, Chung said.
Kim did not mention Pompeo's cancelled trip to North Korea, but said he may be able to "more actively" take denuclearization measures should North Korea be given early rewards for the steps it has taken so far, Chung added.
At the upcoming summit, the leaders of the two Koreas will also discuss ways to further reduce military tension between their countries.
"(The countries) agreed to discuss specific ways to built their mutual trust and prevent armed conflicts while continuing their ongoing talks on reducing military tension at the South-North Korean summit," Chung said.
To this end, the countries agreed to open their joint liaison office in the North's border village of Kaesong before the third Moon-Kim summit, he added.
Chung said South Korea will thoroughly explain the outcome of his trip to the United States and other countries with an interest in the matter.
"The South and the North will seek to make actual progress in the development of the South-North Korean relationship, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of peace by working ceaselessly with patience," he said. (Yonhap News)