President Moon Jae-in will dispatch a special envoy to North Korea on Sept. 5 to discuss the itinerary for a planned inter-Korean summit and other imminent issues concerning the peninsula.
According to Cheong Wa Dae, North Korea on Friday sent a telegram to the South, accepting the Seoul government’s offer earlier in the day to send a special envoy.
Moon has yet to name his special envoy.
The two Koreas agreed to hold a summit in Pyongyang in September, during a high-level meeting earlier this month, but a specific date has yet to be announced. If held, the summit will be the third of its kind between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un following their first and second meetings at the truce village of Panmunjom in April and May, respectively.
“The special envoy will discuss a wide range of issues, including the specific date for the South-North Korea summit, development of the South-North Korean relationship, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman told a press briefing.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon revealed while attending a workshop for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea on the same day that he had proposed sending an envoy to his North Korean counterpart, Ri Son-gwon. Ri is the chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.
Seoul’s decision comes amid stalled denuclearization talks between the US and the North, with the stagnation presenting a further obstacle to progress on inter-Korean ties.
A slew of cross-border projects intended to pave the way for economic and political cooperation, such as a joint survey for railways connecting the peninsula and the opening of a liaison office in the North’s border town of Kaesong, have been delayed over the US position that progress on inter-Korean ties must be made in tandem with progress on denuclearization.
As Seoul has been highlighting the importance of creating a virtuous cycle of US-North Korea denuclearization talks, the envoy is expected to work on clearing the path for Washington and Pyongyang to make headway in their talks.
North Korea has recently ramped up its criticism of the US, saying that it is not making enough efforts to build “trust” between the two. The US is adamant that complete denuclearization of the peninsula must happen before it offers any incentives or lifts any layers of sanctions against the communist regime.
In March, Moon had sent special envoys led by Chung Eui-yong, head of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, to Pyongyang. Chung met with Kim and the two Koreas agreed to hold the first inter-Korean summit, establish a hotline between the leaders, and reaffirmed Pyongyang's willingness to denuclearize. Chung then headed to the US to deliver a message from Kim to Trump.
Trump said last week that he would "most likely" meet Kim again, depending on how faithfully he implements his commitment to denuclearize. They held their first summit in Singapore on June 12.
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com)