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Delegation to discuss tensions as Trump hints at openness to meeting
SEOUL - Moon Jae-in, the Republic of Korea president, will send special envoys to the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea on Monday, the first such move in 11 years.
Chung Eui-yong, Moon"s top national security adviser, will lead the contingent, composed of five delegates and five working-level officials. Suh Hoon, director of the country"s intelligence agency, was included in the delegation.
The group will make a two-day trip to Pyongyang for dialogue with senior DPRK officials on issues to improve inter-Korean relations and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, according to the ROK Blue House.
The move is the latest chapter in a remarkable Olympics-driven detente between the countries.
An intense rapprochement saw the neighbors march together at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that ended on Feb 25, with the DPRK"s top leader Kim Jong-un sending his sister as a special envoy to the event.
Kim Yo-jong"s appearance at the Games" opening ceremony made global headlines, marking the first visit to the ROK by a member of the Kim family since the end of the Korean War.
Moon has sought to use the Pyeongchang Games to open dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in the hopes of easing a nuclear standoff that has heightened fears over global security.
"The special delegates will have extensive discussions over issues including creating conditions for DPRK-US talks to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula and improving inter-Korea ties," Moon"s spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.
The ROK representatives will meet with "high-level North Korean officials" during the two-day trip, and then fly to the US to explain the result of the talks to officials in Washington, Yoon added.
The DPRK on Saturday said dialogue with Washington is possible but urged the US to remove any preconditions, such as denuclearization, which they have previously insisted on.
"It is the consistent and principled position of the DPRK to resolve issues in a diplomatic and peaceful way through dialogue and negotiation," the Korean Central News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying.
The official said the DPRK wants dialogue "designed to discuss and resolve the issue of mutual concern on an equal footing between states".
"In the decades-long history of the DPRK-US talks, there has been no case at all where we sat with the US with any precondition, and this will be the case in future, too," he said.
Open to idea
Trump seemed open to the idea at the annual lighthearted Gridiron Dinner over the weekend.
Trump suggested that the US will be meeting with the DPRK but has told Pyongyang it must first "denuke".
"We will be meeting and we"ll see if anything positive happens," he added.
Trump dished out sharp one-liners throughout his comments on Saturday night, occasionally lapsing into recurring themes about the 2016 election and media bias.
"Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It"s not even close," said Trump, who skipped last year"s dinner. He also said: "I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That"s why I accepted."
Xinhua - Afp - Reuters