North and South Korea have resumed senior-level peace talks that Seoul sees as a vital step towards denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula...
Officials from the Koreas speak at Panmunjom (Picture: PA).
North and South Korea have resumed senior-level peace talks that Seoul sees as a vital step towards denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The meeting at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom follows a meeting in New York between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol, where they discussed the potential summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
American officials are also meeting North Koreans in Panmunjom and Singapore, as they look to confirm the summit due to take place on 12 June in Singapore.
Reportedly, a senior North Korean official will travel to Washington to deliver a letter to President Donald Trump from Mr Kim as talks continue.
South Korea hope to use the latest meeting between the nations to set up military tasks on reducing tensions across the heavily armed border, as well as reuniting families separated by the 1950-53 Korean war.
The setting up of a liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong may be discussed and also the arrangement of a joint event to commemorate the "June 15 Declaration" for peace adopted after the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.
The fielding of combined teams in some sports at the Asian Games in August could also be on the agenda.
The two nations played under a unified flag during this year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyongchang.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim Jong Un twice over four weeks, has said progress in inter-Korean reconciliation will be a crucial part of international efforts to resolve the nuclear stand-off with North Korea because Pyongyang would not give up its nuclear programme unless it feels its security is assured.
Seoul's unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, told reporters before the meeting:
"We will hold discussions with the North so that we can implement the agreements between the two leaders with pace and without hitches and also create a positive atmosphere for the leaders' summit between North Korea and the United States."
Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North's agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs, told Mr Cho at the start of the meeting that the two nations should work on building "trust and consideration for each other" to carry out the agreements made in previous meetings.
North Korea And Russia
Mr Kim has also met with Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Pyongyang.
Mr Lavrov's visit suggests Russia wants to make sure it is informed of North Korea's intentions.
Moscow has remained mainly on the sidelines as Mr Kim reached out to Seoul, Bejing and Washington.
Mr Lavrov passed on President Vladimir Putin's "warmest regards and best wishes" to Mr Kim for his "big endeavours" on the Korean Peninsula.
He also expressed Moscow's support for an agreement Mr Kim reached with President Moon Jae-in at a summit last month that focused on easing hostilities and increasing exchanges between the Koreas.
According to Russian media, he also discussed ways to expand relations during a meeting with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
"We welcome the contacts that have been developing in the recent months between North and South Korea, between North Korea and the United States," Mr Lavrov said in comments to the media.
"We welcome the summits that already took place between Pyongyang and Seoul as well as planned meetings between North Korean and US leadership."
Mr Lavrov vowed support for North Korea's denuclearisation and the effort to create peace in the region.
He indicated that Moscow believes sanctions can be eased while the process is in progress - the US on the other hand, says denuclearisation must come first.
"It's absolutely obvious that when a conversation starts about solving the nuclear problem and other problems of the Korean Peninsula, we proceed from the fact that the decision can't be complete while sanctions are still in place," he said.
Reports from North Korea say Mr Kim has agreed to travel to Moscow for a summit following Mr Lavrov's visit.