March 28, 2018
The leaders of North and South Korea will meet on April 27 for the first time since 2007, the two countries announced Thursday after high-level talks.
North and South Korean officials met earlier at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two countries to discuss the timing of the landmark summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Talks between the two sides began at Tongil-gak, the northern side of Panmunjom, in the highly fortified DMZ shortly after 10 a.m. local time.
North and South Korean leaders to meet April 27 for first time in decade
The summit, which would mark the first time since 2007 leaders from the two countries have met, is part of a flurry of international diplomacy that follows a surprise thaw in relations on the Korean peninsula.
In the surest sign yet that Kim is intent on engaging in international talks, the North Korean leader made his first foreign trip as leader to Beijing this week to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The trip was in part an effort to mend an old alliance which has been strained in recent years.
US President Donald Trump is expected with the North Korean despot before the end of May, the first time a sitting US leader has met with a member of the Kim dynasty.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also expected to sit down with Trump in Florida soon, likely with a list of concerns over the potential face-to-face encounter.
North and South Korean leaders to meet April 27 for first time in decade
Joint statement expected, official says
The North and South Korean delegations were both headed by the same men who engaged in the first negotiations in January, after Pyongyang agreed to reopen diplomatic communications with Seoul.
Ri Son Gwon, chairman of Pyongyang's "Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country" led the North Korean delegation while Unification Minister Cho represents Seoul.
A South Korean Unification Ministry official told CNN both sides had discussed possible dates for the Moon, Kim summit during the meetings, and a joint statement was expected by the end of the day.
North and South Korean leaders to meet April 27 for first time in decade
During the initial hour of talks, both sides praised the diplomatic work done so far and hailed the success of the 2018 Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, which North Korea took part in.
"It has been less than three months since we met on January 9th and many things have happened between the Koreas," South Korea's Cho said during the morning session.
The North Korean representative Ri agreed, saying visiting Tongil-gak was "emotional" for all Korean visitors. "Tongil-gak and Panmunjom are symbols of divided Korea," he said.
North and South Korean leaders to meet April 27 for first time in decade
South Korea's Moon has long been pushing hard for diplomatic relations with North Korea, saying at his swearing-in ceremony in 2017 "for peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do."
But negotiating with the young despot is a high-stakes move fraught with risk. Previous rounds of talks before Kim took power yielded little progress on denuclearization.
This year's diplomatic thaw comes in sharp contrast to 2017 when the peninsula appeared to be barreling toward conflict, with Kim overseeing a string of missile and nuclear tests and Trump promising "fire and fury" as Pyongyang threatened Guam, Hawaii and even the US mainland.
Correction: The story has been updated to reflect that talks are being held on the northern side of Panmunjom.
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