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Moon envoys meet Kim Jong-un

Delegation is invited to reception, dinner shortly after its arrival
Mar 06,2018
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President Moon Jae-in’s special envoys, left, discuss their itinerary with North Korean officials at the Kobangsan Guest House in Pyongyang. Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, second from right, attended the 15-minute discussion, in which the two sides agreed to attend a reception as well as a dinner hosted by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.[BLUE HOUSE]
이미지뷰
President Moon Jae-in’s special delegation to the North stands at Seoul Airport, a military air base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, before departing for Pyongyang on Monday. [YONHAP]


President Moon Jae-in’s envoys met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Monday, the Blue House said.

A 10-member delegation left for North Korea in the afternoon on a mission to persuade the Kim Jong-un regime to join denuclearization negotiations of some sort. Starting at 6 p.m., Kim hosted a dinner for the delegation headed by Chung Eui-yong, Moon’s special envoy, according to Kim Eui-kyeom, presidential spokesman.

The delegation was welcomed at the airport in Pyongyang by top North Korean officials including Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, the spokesman said.

After a 10-minute discussion in an airport VIP reception area, the delegation moved to Kobangsan Guest House, where they will stay for the night. Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, who is also known to be director of the committee’s intelligence arm, the United Front Department, received them at the guest house.

The two sides had a 15-minute discussion on the delegation’s schedule during their stay in the North and agreed to attend a reception as well as a dinner with the North Korean leader Kim starting at 6 p.m., the spokesman said.

It is the first time that Kim Jong-un met a delegation from a country with which North Korea has no diplomatic ties. In the past, he met with delegates from China, Cuba and Syria.

In a press conference hours before the delegation’s departure, Chung explained his mission. “I will clearly deliver the president’s strong and firm resolve to build a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and true, permanent peace by keeping the flow of inter-Korean talks and improvement of relations,” Chung said.

“In order to achieve the goal, I want to have a serious discussion with the North on plans to continue not only inter-Korean talks but also the North’s dialogue with the United States and the international community,” Chung said.

Chung, head of the National Security Office of the Blue House, led a 10-person delegation on a two-day trip to Pyongyang. In the delegation are five special envoys including Chung and Suh Hoon, director of the National Intelligence Service, Chun Hae-sung, vice minister of unification, Kim Sang-gyun, second deputy director of the NIS, and Yun Kun-young, a senior Blue House official in charge of monitoring state affairs.

The delegation also included five support staff from the Blue House. No reporter accompanied the trip.

The delegation, carrying a letter from Moon to Kim, left Seoul Airport, a military air base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, around 1:50 p.m. on a special flight. They arrived at the Sunan Airport in Pyongyang at 2:50 p.m., according to the Blue House.

The trip reciprocates the North’s sending of a special envoy last month to the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, came to the South, met with Moon and delivered an invitation from her brother to an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

The two-day trip by the special envoys is the first of its kind since Moon took office in May.

According to the Blue House, Chung and Suh will visit Washington after they return from Pyongyang to give briefings about their trip.

Chung will also brief the heads of the ruling and opposition parties on Wednesday about his mission.

North Korea has been issuing exceptionally speedy reports about the latest developments in inter-Korean affairs since Seoul and Pyongyang restored contacts in January. The state-run radio and Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) wire service reported the special envoys’ arrival at around 5:35 p.m.

Earlier in the morning, KCNA issued a one-sentence report saying the South Korean president’s delegation, headed by Chung, would soon visit Pyongyang.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]