South Korean President Moon Jae-in will send a high-level special delegation to North Korea on Monday to discuss ways in which relations can be improved and to ease tension on the peninsula, South Korea's presidential Blue House announced on Sunday.
"The special delegates will have extensive discussions over issues ... including creating conditions for North Korea-U.S. dialogue," Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.
That mission could be complicated by military planned drills, however, as a commentary published by North Korea's official KCNA news agency warned that Pyongyang would "counter the U.S." if it holds joint military exercises with South Korea in April.
The 10-member delegation will be headed by Suh Hoon, the head of the National Intelligence Service, and Moon's top national security advisor Chung Eui-Yong. Moon has yet to accept Kim Jong Un's invitation to visit Pyongyang.
After the two-day visit to North Korea, the South Korean special envoys will travel to the United States to brief American officials on their discussions in Pyongyang.
In sending his envoys to Pyongyang, Moon is seeking to reciprocate Kim Jong Un's decision to send a senior delegation, including his sister, Kim Yo Jong, to last month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
It was the first visit by a member of the North's ruling family to South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Those North Korean officials told Moon they were willing to restart talks with the U.S., but President Donald Trump responded by saying talks will happen only “under the right conditions.''
Speaking Saturday night at this year's traditional Gridiron Club Dinner, Trump said during his joke-filled monologue at the event with journalists that he would not rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un, but North Korea must first "denuke." It was unclear if Trump was kidding or if formal U.S.-North Korea talks were imminent.
In an unusual self-deprecating statement, Trump said, "As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that's his [Kim's] problem, not mine."