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N Korea at crossroads

Two Koreas agree to hold summit in Pyongyang Sept. 18-20

Kim Jong Un tells South Korean envoy of his will to denuclearize

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting in May.   © AP

SEOUL -- The two Koreas agreed to hold a three-day summit in Pyongyang from Sept. 18, as they seek to break a stalemate in denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea.

National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un accepted South Korean President Moon Jae-in's offer to hold their third summit in the reclusive country's capital. Chung, a special envoy of Moon, met with Kim in Pyongyang on Wednesday and delivered a letter from the president.

"The South and the North agreed to hold the inter-Korean summit for three days between Sept. 18 and 20 in Pyongyang," Chung said in a press briefing. "In the inter-Korean summit, we agreed to discuss on how to establish sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula, in particular, practical measures for the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."

Chung added that Kim reiterated his strong will for the complete denuclearization of the peninsula, and his willingness to cooperate with the U.S. and South Korea.

Analysts say that the two Koreas agreed on a three-day summit to show the international community their determination to resolve the denuclearization issue.

"For the North, it is helpful to strengthen its legitimacy to have a longer summit with the South," said Jin Chang-Soo, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, a private think tank in South Korea. "For the South, it can show that it is pressuring the North to denuclearize."

The key now, Jin said, is the extent to which Seoul can draw Pyongyang to the denuclearization process.

One stumbling block at the summit could be Pyongyang's push for economic aid from Seoul. The U.S. opposes the provision of economic assistance until it sees North Korea taking concrete steps toward denuclearization. But Moon -- a self-styled mediator between the U.S. and North Korea -- is keen to avoid a collapse in the diplomatic process.

The announcement of the meeting comes two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump's last minute cancellation of a visit to the country by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The U.S. has demanded Pyongyang take concrete steps by submitting a list of its nuclear arms and facilities, while North Korea has asked Washington to first declare the end of the Korean War.

National Security Adviser Chung said that Kim told him he wished to end seven-decades of hostility with the U.S. and had nothing negative to say about U.S. President Donald Trump.

South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong speaks during a press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Thursday.   © AP

"Chairman Kim made it clear that his trust for President Donald Trump has not changed, although there have been difficulties," Chung said.

He added, however, that a trilateral summit between the U.S. and the two Koreas at this month's United Nations General Assembly in New York is unlikely because Kim doesn't see that conditions have been for such a meeting.

Moon, who met with Kim in April and May in the border village of Panmunjom, will be the third South Korean president to visit North Korea.

Chung said there would be a high-level meeting at Panmunjom next week to discuss protocol, security, communications and media opportunities for the summit.

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