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N.K. leader's visit to play role as 'stepping stone' for U.S.-N.K. summit: minister

North Korea 16:38 December 11, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's promised visit to Seoul, if realized, will be significantly meaningful as it could play a role as a "stepping stone" for a second summit between the North and the United States, the unification minister said Tuesday.

The remark by Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon reflects Seoul's wish that Kim will visit Seoul before year's end so as to help break the deadlock in denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang and lead to a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

"If a fourth inter-Korean summit takes place under this administration, it will have various meanings," Cho said during a lecture at a meeting of the National Unification Advisory Council. "It would be greatly meaningful in that an inter-Korean summit can play a role as a stepping stone ahead of a North-U.S. summit."

Kim pledged to visit Seoul in the near future when he held his third summit with President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang in September. Talk of his trip gained significant traction recently after U.S. President Donald Trump indicated he doesn't care if Kim's trip to Seoul takes place before his second summit with Kim.

South Korea believes that Kim's cross-border trip will help break the deadlock in the stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington and move inter-Korean reconciliation significantly forward.

No North Korean leader has ever visited the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Meanwhile, Cho said that the South has been in talks with the North about holding video reunions or exchanging "video letters" between families separated across the border, saying such events can kick off early next year.

Cho said that the two Koreas are also in talks about holding a groundbreaking ceremony before the end of the year for a project to modernize the North's rail systems and reconnect cross-border rail lines.

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