Kim Jong-un welcomes Seoul delegation: smiles and 'satisfactory agreements'
First ever meeting between Northern leader and Seoul officials. Moon Jae-in invites him to an inter-Korean summit; Kim Jong-un accepts the proposal. Washington is "cautiously optimistic", but insists on the renunciation of nuclear power. South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs: sanctions help to finding a peaceful solution.
Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Kim Jong-un wants to "vigorously continue " closer relations with South Korea. Last night, the North Korean leader received and hosted the Seoul delegation for dinner: it is the first time that South Korean officials have met Kim since he came to power in 2011, unwilling to appear in the presence of foreign officials - including the presidents of historic allies China and Russia.
Since the beginning of the year, relations between the two Koreas have experienced a moment of relaxation, made possible in the context of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The dinner lasted four hours, and Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju - who rarely takes part in public events - and her younger sister Kim Yo-jong (see picture 2) also took part.
South Korea has so far released only brief comments on the meeting, stating that there have been results and that the Blue House "is not disappointed". It is likely that Seoul will wait for the return of the delegates, scheduled for today, to release more information. The delegation handed Kim a letter of invitation from South Korean President Moon Jae-in for an inter-Korean summit. Kim has already responded to the invitation positively: the North Korean media claim that the two sides have reached a "satisfactory agreement" for future negotiations.
In the coming days, South Korean representatives should head to Washington to report the results of the meeting to the American authorities. Washington says it is "cautiously optimistic" of the steps forward in the North-South contacts, but reiterated that it does not intend to dialogue with Pyongyang until hit renounces nuclear weapons. According to Noh Kyu-duk, spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the latest sanctions imposed by the US will "help to find a peaceful resolution to the nuclear problem in the North". Until now, North Korea has always ruled out the abandonment of its nuclear program, stating that it is necessary to defend itself from the United States.