South Korean special envoy flies to North Korea


A South Korean presidential delegation has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang and has conveyed a personal letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

During a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Moon had assured the latter that he would keep Washington informed of the outcomes of Wednesday's meeting.

A high-level South Korean delegation will fly to North Korea this week to discuss arrangements for an inter-Korean summit there this month, as relations grow cooler between Washington and Pyongyang. The date of the talks, which will come on the eve of a gathering of world leaders at the the end of September, was to be released later Thursday.

KCNA said Kim and the South Korean envoys reached a "satisfactory agreement" over his planned summit with Moon. The U.N. General Assembly in late September would be an ideal date for Seoul, but many analysts see that possibility as low, considering the complications of the process and how far apart the parties now are.

Senior U.S. administration officials are believed to be very reluctant to take such a step unless they see concrete action from Pyongyang in dismantling at least part of its nuclear arsenal.

On Tuesday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry published a statement on its website arguing that such a declaration should be issued without delay, "as the first process, to manifest the political will to establish the lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula".

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"It's worth the gamble for Moon to make bold demands to try to get North Korea back on track in nuclear negotiations with the United States, but current signs indicate the North won't budge", said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

A year ago it claimed it had become a nuclear state, capable of fitting a viable nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach as far as the United States' eastern seaboard.

At the US-North Korea summit in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump had agreed to improve bilateral ties and work toward North Korea's nuclear disarmament. Post-summit nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang were rocky and quickly settled into a stalemate.

The South Korean leader explained in detail to Trump about the dispatch of his special envoys to Pyongyang, which aimed to consult on ways to build permanent peace on the peninsula through complete denuclearization as well as to prepare for the third summit with the DPRK top leader.

Trump earlier 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 denuclearization process. The resumption of U.S.