(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of a text message from Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson welcoming the proposed dialogue in paras 7-9)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and the United States agreed to resume their working-level nuclear talks this week, Pyongyang's state media reported Tuesday, citing a statement from a senior diplomat.
First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that Washington and Pyongyang agreed to hold "preliminary contact on Oct. 4 and hold working-level negotiations on Oct. 5," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Choe did not mention the venue for the upcoming talks.
"The delegates of the DPRK side are ready to enter into the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations," Choe said in a statement. DPRK stands for the North's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations," she added.
Pyongyang recently expressed its intent to return to dialogue after a period of tensions caused by its angry reactions to the combined military exercise between Washington and Seoul in August.
Seoul welcomed the proposed resumption of dialogue between the two countries.
"(South Korea) welcomes the agreement between North Korea and the U.S. to hold working-level negotiations on (Oct.) 5," Ko Min-jung, spokeswoman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said in a short text message sent to reporters.
"We hope the sides will make practical progress at the upcoming working-level negotiations for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of lasting peace," she added.
The upcoming talks will mark the first nuclear negotiations between the two sides since February's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un broke down without an agreement due to differences over Pyongyang's denuclearization measures and Washington's sanctions relief.
Hopes for a compromise in the envisioned talks have emerged with the ouster of hawkish U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Washington's apparent conciliatory gestures.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has talked of possible security assurances for the communist regime and dangled the prospect of a bright future for a nuclear-free North Korea.
But it remains to be seen whether the two sides can make substantive progress this time, given that they still seem to remain far apart over the scope of the North's denuclearization, its disarmament method and what compensation to give in return.
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