North and South Korea Set Date for April Summit


Mr Kim will become the first North Korean leader to travel to the South when he meets Mr Moon in Panmunjom on April 27 at the site in the demilitarised zone where the armistice that halted the Korean War was signed in 1953.

The North's delegation is led by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of an agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.

Robert Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, said: "Xi would not grant this meeting unless the Chinese were genuinely concerned about the summits to come and wanted some kind of role to play".

The meeting would be the third between leaders of the two Koreas.

Senior US officials have privately expressed concerns that Seoul is the weak link in the US-Japan-South Korean alliance, and could be too quick to seal a deal with North Korea.

The last inter-Korean summit was held in October 2007 between then President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader.

USA and South Korean trade representatives had agreed US steel tariffs would not apply against South Korean firms and that South Korea would lift restrictions on US automobiles.

North Korea defense experts say the U.S. should not offer anything like oil, food or money to bring North Korea to the table.

The North's commitment to stand down on nukes follows a busy year of a combined 17 full-flight missile tests last year, including one last September in which North Korea upped its game with its sixth and largest nuclear test to date.

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"President Xi exchanged opinions with Kim Jong Un over a long period of time", Yang said through a translator in his meeting with Chung.

"We believe Kim's visit will help the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, ensure peace and security and solve problems regarding the Korean Peninsula through political negotiations and discussions", he said. A mood for rapprochement set in this year after North Korea reached out to the South over its participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The North's official media omitted Kim's reported comments opening dialogue with the United States that were carried in Chinese state media.

The Ford Explorer was the most popular USA made vehicle in South Korea past year, with about 6,000 vehicles registered, according to statistics compiled by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

South Korea's Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Un-kyu said on the sidelines of a news conference in Seoul that the ministry was trying to figure out the real intent of Trump's remarks, a trade ministry spokeswoman said.

It is unclear how, if at all, Trump's threat would advantage the talks with the North, which are focused on ending Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The two sides did not settle on the summit agenda at Thursday's meeting in the Unification Pavilion on Panmunjom's northern side, but the South's delegation leader Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters they agreed Kim and Moon should be able to hold "frank discussions on all matters".

The Koreas agreed to a summit when Moon's envoys visited Kim in Pyongyang earlier this month.

Kim and his wife also personally hosted a dinner for the group on Monday night at the Workers' party headquarters, the first time South Korean officials have visited the building, according to Seoul's presidential office. The South Korean artists performing in the North include some of the country's most popular pop singers, including Cho Yong-pil, who performed in Pyongyang during a previous era of detente, and girl band Red Velvet.