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North ‘agrees’ to hold high-level talks with South Korea

The stakes are higher for a potential summit between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart that may take place by the end of May.

FILE: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Picture: AFP.

SEOUL - North Korea has agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea on 29 March at the border truce village of Panmunjom to prepare for a summit of their leaders planned for April, the South said on Saturday.

A team of three officials will be led by Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of North Korea’s committee for the peaceful reunification of the country, the North told its neighbour early on Saturday, the South’s Unification Ministry said.

“This morning, North Korea sent a message through a communication channel in Panmunjom agreeing to our suggestion made on the 22nd to hold high-level inter-Korea talks,” the ministry said in a statement.

The stakes are higher for a potential summit between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart that may take place by the end of May, however.

Trump this week named John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations famed for his hawkish views on Pyongyang, to replace White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 13 March, saying the two had disagreed over Iran and other foreign policy matters.

The Korean talks set for 29 March will precede musical performances in Pyongyang in early April by a group of South Korean singers making a reciprocal visit after the North sent performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Artists of both nations will collaborate for a show on 3 April, the South’s Yonhap news agency said, citing an aide of President Moon Jae-in.

Moon plans to hold a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un by the end of April.

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