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South Korean President Opens the Door for Talks with North Korean Leader

  • VOA News

South Korean President Moon Jae-In sits next to Chinese President Xi Jinping (not seen) during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Dec. 14, 2017.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday he is willing to hold one-on-one talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- but only if certain conditions are met.

President Moon's offer of talks with his North Korean counterpart came a day after diplomats from the two Koreas held their first formal round of talks since December 2015.

The South Korean president told reporters in Seoul that a bilateral summit should be more than just meeting simply for the sake of holding a meeting. Moon said a certain level of success "must be guaranteed" before he sits down with Kim Jong Un.

During Tuesday's summit at the "peace village" of Panmunjom, a neutral site located in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the North and South, North Korea agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympic Games in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. The two sides also agreed to hold military talks "to defuse the current military tension."

South Korea also proposed another reunion of family members separated since the 1950-53 civil war that divided the two Koreas, to be held next month during the Lunar New Year, when the Pyeongchang Games will still be taking place.

President Moon also thanked U.S. President Donald Trump Tuesday, saying he deserves credit for helping make Tuesday's cross-border exchange possible. He said the U.S.-led sanctions against the regime, along with continued pressure, likely brought Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

Tuesday's talks broke a long freeze in inter-Korean relations, escalated by North Korea's development of its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions and aggravated by belligerent rhetoric between the North Korean leader and the U.S. president.

Kim Jong Un broke the ice in his New Year's Day speech when he offered to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

President Moon, who has sought better ties with the belligerent North, responded by offering talks with Kim's government.