S.Korean president leaves for Pyongyang for summit with DPRK top leader

Ailee And Block B's Zico To Perform In North Korea For Inter-Korean Summit

At the start of their meeting Tuesday, Kim thanked Moon for brokering the June summit with Trump.

Moon's office says Moon's summit with Kim began later Tuesday at a ruling Workers' Party building in Pyongyang.

Moon said Monday that he aimed to have lots of frank talks with the DPRK leader during his three-day Pyongyang visit in a bid to defuse military tensions across the inter-Korean border and facilitate the DPRK-U.S. dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea, Lee said, portrays all visits by foreign heads of state as reflecting on the "manifold virtues of the Great Leader", and that's especially true of "a Pyongyang pilgrimage by the leader of the illegitimate Korean state" to the south.

The talks on the Korean Peninsula are taking place as the USA effort to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program has lost some momentum, months after President Trump met with Kim in June for a summit in Singapore.

At the time, the North Korean leader declared his backing for the denuclearisation of the peninsula. The North often holds off reporting stories until it has had time to review and edit the video for maximum propaganda impact.

The results of the talks were not immediately available.

Perhaps more immediately, and possibly more crucially, Moon may need to ultimately convince Trump to give South Korea some breathing room to operate independently, said Aidan Foster-Carter, a North Korea specialist and honorary senior research fellow at Leeds University.

Lee said the United States is letting South Korea take the lead on its relationship with North Korea, "but continuing down a path of reconciliation without requiring denuclearization will put Seoul and Washington at odds", she said.

"Our shoulders are heavy, but I think a meeting will go well as we have built up trust and friendship", he told Kim.

Before a luncheon at the Paekhwawon Guest House, Moon said that "spring in Panmunjom leads to autumn in Pyongyang", and thanked the North for the warm welcome.

One of Moon's objectives - and one that also interests Kim - was clear from the people he took with him. But in August, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US had no future plans to end the joint military drills.

But the nuclear issue was sure to cast a shadow over negotiations on joint projects.

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But no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved.

"Until recently, denuclearization was (a North-US issue), and neither the North nor the US were very happy about us raising the denuclearization issue", Im said.

In their constitutions both North and South Korea claim sovereignty over the whole of the peninsula.

North Korea wants a formal declaration ending the Korean War first.

It is also the two leaders' third meeting this year, after previous summits in April and May in the DMZ.

But underscoring the challenges ahead, the North's official Rodong Sinmun said the same day that "the responsibility falls squarely on the United States" for the stalled nuclear discussions.

Rarely do the North Korean official media even mention the word denuclearization.

Vipin Narang, a North Korea expert at MIT, said Kim's efforts this week fit into his new strategic line.

There's also worry that a legally binding peace treaty would allow North Korea, and its backers in the U.N. Security Council, Russia and China, to demand that the USA -controlled U.N. Command that polices the Korean border under the armistice be disbanded. Trump has indicated he may be open to holding another summit to resuscitate the talks, however.

At the same time Kim will look to secure closer inter-Korean co-operation as Seoul and Washington move at increasingly different speeds in their approaches to Pyongyang.

The primary focus of Moon's trip is to address ways to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula and avoid armed conflict between the two countries.

Though reunification may be out of reach, the importance of other forms of North and South Korean reconciliation, including re-establishing communications, can not be overstated, Lee said.

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