North and South Korean leaders to meet on April 27

Charlene Craig
March 30, 2018

The Koreas plan to hold another preparatory meeting on April 4 to discuss protocol, security and media coverage issues, according to a joint statement released by the countries.

Although the full details of their discussion have not been revealed, South Korea's Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, said earlier in the day that the North's "denuclearisation" would be "the most important agenda item".

South Korea's presidential office says a Chinese official is heading to Seoul to brief President Moon Jae-in about the summit this week between North Korea's and China's leaders.

This comes after the delegations from two Koreas met at the Panmunjom, the border village located along the heavily guarded Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), which acts as the de facto border between the two countries.

As both China and North Korea are socialist countries, Kim also appears to trust Beijing over Washington, the source said, adding that without China's backing, he might feel unable to negotiate with Trump on an equal footing.

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Cho, in response, said officials should do their best to arrange a successful summit as the "current situation was created by decisions by the highest leaders of the North and South".

The summit -considered to be only the third to take place since the 1950-53 Korean War - is scheduled to be attended by the head of North Korea, Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. During this meeting, Kim agreed to meet with Moon towards the end of April.

Mr Trump is set to will meet with Mr Kim by May, a top South Korean official announced.

After he became China's president in 2013, Xi visited South Korea before making a trip to the North, which enraged Kim and hurt relations between Pyongyang and Beijing, the source said.

It has been subjected to multiple rounds of sanctions by the United Nations (UN) Security Council, US, South Korea, and others as a result, and tensions in the region have soared, with Kim and Trump engaging in a fiery war of words a year ago. The agenda will primarily focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Reuters reported.

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China has always been the North's key diplomatic defender and provider of trade and aid, but relations have been strained by Pyongyang's weapons programmes, with Beijing showing a new willingness to implement United Nations sanctions against it.

Next month's summit - a precursor to a potential meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump - is the culmination of diplomatic efforts after North Korea fired a flurry of missiles past year. Japan's Asahi newspaper said Japan had sounded out the North Korean government about a summit. Trump has repeatedly stated his belief that Kim's apparent eagerness to meet is due to the pressure tactics, notably sanctions, applied by the United States and its allies, and that these tactics must continue, even during the upcoming talks.

On Wednesday, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Kim as saying the nuclear weapons issue could be resolved if South Korea and the U.S. respond to North Korea's efforts "with goodwill".

But North Korea has opposed this solution, claiming that this model is how Gaddafi was expelled from power and later killed.

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