South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said that she is ready to hold a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without any precondition and urged Pyongyang to promptly return to dialogue.
Park told a televised news conference on Monday that an end to North Korea's nuclear programme should be an important part of discussions for peace on the Korean peninsula but it was not a precondition to having a summit meeting.
"My position is that to ease the pain of division and to accomplish peaceful unification, I am willing to meet with anyone," Park said. "If it is helpful, I am up for a summit meeting with the North. There is no precondition."
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from the South Korean capital, Seoul, said there appears to be a change in approach from Park.
"It is something of a change from the position she adopted through her presidency which is that she's open to a summit but only if there stands to be a real chance of progress gained from it and there will be no talks for talks sake," Fawcett said.
"With the recent statement on New Year's day by Kim Jong-un in which he said he was open to a summit if the conditions were correct, Park Geun-hye seem to have dropped the clause about only having a summit if there can be real progress. Now the likelihood of getting into an actual summit though is somewhat more difficult," Fawcett added.
There is no sign of any concrete plan for a meeting between the two leaders. North and South Korean presidents have met only two times since the peninsula was divided at the end of World War II.
The two sides are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended only in a truce and not a peace treaty. More than 1.8 million troops are deployed on both sides of their heavily fortified border.
But Park's comments came after North Korean leader Kim said in a New Year's address: "If the atmosphere and environment is there, there is no reason not to hold a high-level summit."
However, Pyongyang repeatedly sends out contradictory signals.
On Friday, North Korea rejected a call by South Korea's parliament for a resumption of negotiations on various issues including North Korea's human rights record, and families still separated by the Korean War.
Park repeated the offer on Monday. "North Korea should respond to dialogue without hesitation," she said.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies