Special envoy heading to Pyongyang to plan summit

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Special envoy heading to Pyongyang to plan summit

President Moon Jae-in plans to send a special envoy to Pyongyang on Wednesday to schedule a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss a wide range of issues, including North Korea’s denuclearization and ways to improve inter-Korean ties, the Blue House said on Friday.

However, the presidential office did not name the special envoy, nor did it indicate how many people would be in the delegation going to Pyongyang or how long they would stay there. It is also unclear which North Korean officials they will meet.

“The special envoy to the North will have a wide discussion on issues ranging from the inter-Korean summit to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, setting a peace regime and improving inter-Korean relations,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House’s spokesman.

Seoul proposed sending the envoy on Friday, Kim said, and Pyongyang accepted hours later.

“Since the inter-Korean summit is scheduled to be held at an important moment, we decided to send a special envoy in order for the two leaders to have an in-depth discussion,” the Blue House spokesman said, adding that Seoul was in close communication with Washington about the next summit meeting between Moon and Kim Jong-un.

While the special envoy’s schedule has not been finalized, the Blue House spokesman said the delegation would not likely stay in Pyongyang until Sept. 9, when the North celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding with a military parade in the capital.

The special envoy announcement comes as denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States are in a deadlock. U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a scheduled visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing lack of progress in negotiations. The trip was supposed to take place this week.

In sending a special envoy, Moon could be seeking to break through the impasse between Pyongyang and Washington and narrow the differences between both sides.

The special envoy is expected to confirm a date for the next inter-Korean summit, which would be Moon and Kim Jong-un’s third meeting and the fifth inter-Korean summit overall.

The two sides have already agreed to hold the next meeting in Pyongyang sometime in September during talks between senior officials on Aug. 13, but they did not set an exact date.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]
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