After reconnecting communication lines, Pyongyang and Seoul started talks regarding a new summit as part of efforts to restore relations, three South Korean government sources with knowledge of the matter have informed local media.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have been exploring ways to improve strained ties by exchanging multiple letters since April, the sources said on condition of anonymity due to diplomatic sensitivity.
The discussions signal an improvement in ties that have deteriorated in the past year after three leaders’ summits in 2018 promised peace and reconciliation.
Inter-Korean talks could also help restart stalled negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear and missile programmes in return for sanctions relief.
Talks On A Summit Confirmed
Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim have exchanged “candid” letters on more than 10 occasions, which led to an opening of a communication channel between Seoul’s intelligence authorities and Mr. Kim’s sister, Ms. Kim Yo Jong, the first source informed.
There were some visible elements, including pursuing a phased, action-for-action approach, instead of a grand bargain, and appointing a nuclear negotiator, instead of a human rights envoy, the source said.
Washington has unveiled its policy and the North can’t just sit idle, so inter-Korean ties came up as a starting point, the second source added.
The third source confirmed that two Koreas announced the hotline reopenings because little progress was made over other issues, including how the North would apologise for blowing up the liaison office.
The summit issue is key for South Korea's Moon, who is facing declining support in his final year in office. Mr. Moon staked his legacy on improving relations with North Korea and helped set up historic meetings between Kim and then U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019.
The two Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a ceasefire, on Tuesday reconnected hotlines the North severed in June last year.