S Koreans may visit North before summit


"A peace treaty should be signed in the inter-Korean summit so that we can build peace and ensure peaceful coexistence", Mr Do told foreign media. The North also had expressed readiness to hold a similar event with the President of the United States. "But it is unclear whether this will be achieved at this summit".

The first face-to-face interaction between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is only nine days away, in what will be an early test of Kim's willingness to give up his nuclear arsenal.

A Seoul official said Tuesday that South Korean security officials may visit Pyongyang ahead of the summit in hopes of getting Kim to reaffirm his commitment to denuclearise, Reuters reported. The peninsula remains technically at war with a heavily fortified border separating the two countries.

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The first sign that 2018 would be different from 2017, when Kim Jong-un conducted 17 missile tests and a nuclear experiment, was on January 1 during his New Year's speech. "If it fails, Trump will have all the legal grounds to augment pressure on North Korea explaining it by the failure of diplomatic efforts", Rhee Sang Hyong added.

A summit between the two countries' leaders is scheduled for next week and, citing an unidentified South Korean official, the paper says will include a potential joint statement declaring an end to the 68-years-long conflict and easing of tensions.

Some of the issues that would have to be tackled include the hundreds of thousands of troops along one the most heavily fortified borders in the world; submarines and ships patrolling on both coasts; South Korea's active military alliance with the U.S; the hosting of USA forces; and North Korean artillery pointed at Seoul.

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One noteworthy comment from Kim to the South Korean special envoys last month was that he wished to be "taken seriously" during his talks with Moon and Trump.

Moon Chung-in said North Korea this time knows it can not reach a breakthrough deal with the United States unless it accepts American calls for complete, verifiable and irrevocable steps toward disarmament.

Seoul's unification minister has said the two leaders' agenda will cover three main areas: denuclearisation, establishing a permanent peace and improving inter-Korean relations.

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The 2 sides plan to hold working-level talks on Wednesday about arrangements for security and proceedings of the summit.