North, South Korea to hold talks before possible Pyongyang peaks

SEOUL (Reuters) – Officials of North and South Korea are scheduled to hold high-level talks on Monday. A report in the South Korean newspaper suggests that the two sides may plan a summit in Pyongyang this month.

FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at his summit in Panmunjom (North Korea) ceasefire on this handout image released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 27, 2018 KCNA / about REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in April in a ceasefire village on their common border and agreed to hold another summit in the fall, this time in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

Citing an unidentified South Korean official, the Kookmin Ilbo newspaper reported Monday that the summit could take place at the end of August.

The schedule was largely coordinated with North Korea, and the summit is likely to take place in Pyongyang.

A spokesman for South Korean President Blue House said on Sunday that officials had hoped that such details would be decided during the talks on Monday.

"We hope that the timing, location and size of the delegation that will visit North Korea will be decided," said Kim Eui-kyeom, spokesman for the President of the White House, and declined to comment on the details ,

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

Moon and Kim also had a surprise meeting on the border in May, making Moon the only South Korean leader to hit a North Korean leader twice. A visit from Moon to Pyongyang would be the first to take place this year in North Korea's capital.

The North was severely punished for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, but Kim and Trump agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula at their summit in Singapore in June.

North Korea has denounced the US-led efforts to impose sanctions, regardless of what Pyongyang calls good will gestures, including the cessation of arms trials and the repatriation of US troops killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War.

However, US officials familiar with the talks told Reuters that North Korea had not yet accepted a timetable for eliminating its nuclear arsenal or disclosing its size, which, according to US estimates, was between 30 and 60 warheads.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Paul Tait

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