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(3rd LD) N. Korean leader proposes inter-Korean summit with Moon

All Headlines 16:15 February 10, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional information, more background in paras 7-9, 13-15;RESTRUCTURES ; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-un has asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang at the "earliest date" possible for what will be a third inter-Korean summit, Kim's sister told the South Korean leader Saturday.

The invitation was delivered in a meeting between Moon and the North Korean leader's sister, Yo-jong.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) receives a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from Kim's younger sister, Yo-jong, in a meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Feb. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim Yo-jong was earlier considered part of a high-level North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, but Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said she was here as a special envoy of the North Korean leader.

"While delivering a letter from Kim Jong-un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission, which stated willingness to improve South-North Korea relations, special envoy Kim Yo-jong orally delivered Chairman Kim Jong-un's invitation (for Moon) to visit the North at a time convenient to him, saying he is willing to meet President Moon Jae-in at the earliest date possible," the spokeswman told a press briefing.

Moon apparently cited the conditions necessary for an inter-Korean summit.

"Let us make it happen by creating the necessary conditions in the future," he was quoted as saying.

North Korea sent 22 athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games following its last-minute decision to take part in the quadrennial event. The two Koreas held their first formal talks in over two years last month over its participation.

Washington, however, is widely considered still skeptical about the North's intention, while U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stressed the need to continue applying "maximum pressure and sanctions" against the North, in a meeting with the South Korean president here on Thursday.

In the meeting with North Korean officials, Moon stressed the need for the communist North to resume dialogue with the United States.

"An early resumption of dialogue between the United States and the North is needed also for the development of the South-North Korean relationship," he said, according to his spokesman.

This image, provided by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, shows inserts by North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam (on the left side) and Kim Yo-jong, a special envoy and younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, entered in the visitors' log during their visit to Cheong Wa Dae for a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Feb. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

Saturday's meeting also involved the North's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who led what apparently turned out to be a 21-member delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics on Friday.

The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said the meeting at Cheong Wa Dae was held in a "friendly" mood where the two sides exchanged their views on a wide range of issues, including inter-Korean ties and other matters concerning the Korean Peninsula.

The proposed inter-Korean summit, if held, would be the third of its kind after those held in 2000 and 2007, both in Pyongyang.

The two Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Kim Yo-jong is the only member of the North's ruling family to have visited the South since the end of the war.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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