Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Seoul to Send Delegation on Two-Day North Korea Visit

Seoul to Send Delegation on Two-Day North Korea Visit

South Korean officials announced Sunday that South Korea's president will send a delegation to Pyongyang later this week for talks aimed at easing nuclear tensions and trying to lay the groundwork for talks between the USA and the North, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports. North Korea has denounced planned military exercises between the South and the U.S., saying it will take countermeasures if they go ahead.

South Korean officials have said the drill will start next month as planned, after being postponed for the Winter Olympics held last month in the South.

However, the North and South resumed dialogue in January after a two-year gap in order to discuss joint participation in the Winter Olympics.

The delegation includes two minister-level envoys - intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security advisor Chung Eui-yong - in an unprecedented move.

Pyongyang officials lashed out at the USA after President Donald Trump demanded the hermit state get rid of all its nuclear weapons before his diplomats enter into negotiations.

Chung's team will return home Tuesday, then continue on to the US shortly after, aiming to open negotiations with counterparts including national security adviser H.R. McMaster toward establishing talks with Pyongyang.

For Kim, it is considered crucial he is seen by his people as strong and respected by both the South and the US, with the three nations negotiating as peers, analysts in Seoul said.

Their trip to Pyongyang on Monday marks the first of its kind since the liberal-leaning Moon was sworn in as South Korean president a year ago. "We will be meeting, and we will see if anything positive happens".

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in hopes to capitalize on that thaw in relations by arranging talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

It was unclear if Trump was joking or if formal US-North Korea talks were imminent.

The two sides have been at loggerheads since the Korean War ended without a peace treaty nearly 65 years ago, and Kim's government says nuclear weapons are necessary to deter any US-led military action.

Yoon said the envoys will make a comprehensive discussion with the DPRK side about issues especially on necessary conditions to be created for a dialogue between the DPRK and the United States.

A ten-strong diplomatic delegation from South Korea will visit the North in an attempt to ease tensions and pave the way for talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

When Tillerson announced in December that the U.S.is ready to engage the North Koreans in talks without preconditions, the White House contradicted him, stressing that the U.S.is not ready.

Last year, the isolated and impoverished North staged its most powerful nuclear test and test-fired several missiles in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

After its Pyongyang trip, the South Korean delegation will visit Washington to brief USA officials about its talks with the North Korean officials, senior presidential official Yoon Young-chan said at a televised news conference.

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