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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chung Eui-yong, the leader of the South's special delegation on March 6. (KCNA/Reuters)
International Relations

Two Koreas agree on summit in April

Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons if regime's security guaranteed

SEOUL -- South and North Korea have agreed to hold summit talks in Panmunjom, near the Demilitarized Zone, in April, the South Korean government announced on Tuesday.

The talks would have the aim of resolving tensions surrounding Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs and the U.S.'s threats of military action.

Chung Eui-yong, the head of a 10-member delegation that returned from North Korea on Tuesday, also said that Pyongyang had made it clear that it would give up its nuclear weapons if the security of the regime were guaranteed.

"South and North Korea agreed to host the third inter-Korea summit at the Panmunjom Peace House in late April," said Chung in a briefing.

"The North showed a clear will to denuclearize and said that there would be no reason for it to possess nuclear weapons if military threats against North Korea were resolved and the security of its regime guaranteed."

Chung said that the North is also willing to hold talks with the U.S. over denuclearization and the normalization of relations.

The past two inter-Korean summits, held in 2000 and 2007, were attended by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and successive liberal South Korean presidents. Both resulted in a series of cooperative projects that were discontinued during subsequent conservative administrations in Seoul.

The delegation led by Chung, the head of the Blue House's National Security Office, had a four-hour dinner with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his wife Ri Sol Ju and sister Kim Yo Jong on Monday evening.

It marks the first time that South Korean officials have met with Kim since he took power in 2011 upon the death of his father.

But experts argue that there is a long way to go before a total denuclearization.

"It does not make sense to anticipate that North Korea would abandon its nuclear program with no reward because it has invested huge amounts of time and money in developing this," said Lim Eul-chul, a director at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, a research arm of Kyungnam University.

"Considering the U.S. maintains a hostile policy toward Pyongyang, which the North argues is the reason behind its development of nuclear arms, North Korea is highly likely to maintain the programs."

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