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(3rd LD) Moon's special envoys to visit N. Korea this week over dialogue with U.S.

All Headlines 15:23 March 04, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more information in paras 10-12)

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday named his top security adviser and the chief of the country's spy agency as his special envoys to visit North Korea this week for talks that are widely expected to focus on resuming dialogue between the communist state and the United States.

Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential National Security Office, will lead the five-member delegation to Pyongyang that will include Suh Hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

The photo, taken Feb. 10, 2018, shows President Moon Jae-in (L) shaking hands with Kim Yo-jong, younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, before their meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The delegation also includes Chun Hae-sung, vice minister of unification, Yun Kun-young, a Cheong Wa Dae official, and Kim Sang-gyun, a senior NIS director.

They will embark on a two-day trip Monday, using a special direct flight to Pyongyang, Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told a press briefing.

The delegation "is expected to hold talks with North Korea's high-level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship," Yoon said.

"Especially, (the delegation) will hold discussions on the creation of conditions for North Korea-U.S. dialogue aimed at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the development of South-North Korea relations," the Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The North Korea trip by a South Korean delegation had been widely expected amid recent rapprochement between the two Koreas. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent his younger sister, Yo-jong, as a special envoy during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last month to deliver his invitation for Moon to visit Pyongyang at an early date for what would be a third inter-Korean summit.

The United States is believed to remain skeptical about the North's reconciliatory stance toward Seoul.

In a phone call Thursday, Moon told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump that he would soon send a special envoy to Pyongyang.

Chung Eui-yong (L), chief of the presidential National Security Office, and Suh Hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service (Yonhap)

The South Korean envoys will deliver a letter from Moon for the North Korean leader, a Cheong Wa Dae official said, while asking not to be identified.

Whether the North's reclusive leader will meet the South Korean envoys remains to be seen, while the Cheong Wa Dae official said such a meeting has yet to be arranged.

The meeting, if held, will mark the first time for the 34-year-old North Korean leader to meet a South Korean official since coming into power in late 2011.

The South Korean officials will also visit the United States in the near future to explain the outcome of their trip to the reclusive North, according to Yoon.

Moon earlier said his bilateral summit with the North Korean leader would require certain conditions that included a resumption of bilateral talks between the U.S. and the North.

The two Koreas have technically remained at war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only with an armistice and not a peace treaty.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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