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North, South Korea to hold talks before possible Pyongyang summit

A spokesman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Sunday officials hoped such details would be decided at Monday’s talks.

FILE: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (right) and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (left) walk together after a tree-planting ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom on 27 April 2018. Picture: AFP.

SEOUL – North and South Korean officials are scheduled to hold high-level negotiations on Monday, with one South Korean newspaper report suggesting the two sides could be planning for a summit in Pyongyang later this month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in April at a truce village along their mutual border and agreed to have another summit in autumn, this time in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.

Citing an unidentified South Korean official, the newspaper Kookmin Ilbo reported on Monday that summit could be held as soon as late August.

The schedule had mostly been coordinated with North Korea and the summit would likely be held in Pyongyang, it said.

A spokesman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Sunday officials hoped such details would be decided at Monday’s talks.

“We hope that the timing, venue and the size of the delegation that will visit North Korea will be decided,” South Korea’s presidential office Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, declining to comment on specifics.

North Korea’s Kim has a held a flurry of diplomatic summits with the leaders of South Korea, China, and the United States this year.

Moon and Kim also had a surprise meeting at the border in May, making Moon the only South Korean leader to have met a North Korean leader twice. A visit by Moon to Pyongyang would be the first to be held this year in North Korea’s capital.

The North has been heavily sanctioned over its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but Kim and Trump agreed at their landmark summit in Singapore in June to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea has denounced US-led efforts to maintain sanctions despite what Pyongyang says are goodwill gestures, including halting its weapons testing and returning the remains of US troops killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War.

US officials familiar with the talks, however, told Reuters that North Korea had yet to agree to a timeline for eliminating its nuclear arsenal or to disclose its size, which US estimates have put at between 30 and 60 warheads.

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