North Korea says inter-Korean summit possible with ‘respect’

In the second statement in two days, Kim Yo Jong says North Korea is ready to consider an inter-Korean summit if respect can be assured.

In this April 27, 2018, photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, poses with South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone, South Korea [File: Korea Summit Press Pool via AP]

The sister of North Korea’s leader has said Pyongyang is willing to consider another inter-Korean summit if mutual “respect” and “impartiality” between the two countries can be guaranteed.

The statement on Saturday was Kim Yo Jong’s second in two days.

She had urged Seoul on Friday to end its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang after South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for declaring an official end to the state of war with the North.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the United States-led forces technically still at war with North Korea.

Pyongyang for decades has sought an end to the war but the US has been reluctant to agree unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons.

“I think that only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other are maintained, can there be smooth understanding between the north and the south,” Kim Yo Jong was quoted as saying by the state news agency KCNA.

She also said a summit, as well as discussions on a declaration to end the war, could be held “at an early date through constructive discussions”.

She went on to reiterate Friday’s call for Seoul to drop its “unequal double-standards”, in an apparent reference to Moon’s criticism of the North’s recent missile launches.

Last week, South Korea successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), making it one of a handful of nations with advanced technology.

North Korea carried out two missile firings this month alone, one involving a long-range cruise missile and the other a short-range ballistic missile.

Communications between the North and the South have largely been cut in the aftermath of a second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi that collapsed in February 2019 as then-US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could not agree on the terms of an agreement.

Kim Yo Jong, who is a powerful confidante of her brother, said she noted with interest the intense discussion in South Korea over the renewed prospect of a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War.

“I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong,” she said.

“We, too, have the same desire.”

North Korea’s offer to engage in talks with South Korea comes after it rejected several overtures for dialogue by the US.

US President Joe Biden said in his UN address last week that he wanted “sustained diplomacy” to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The head of the UN atomic watchdog said last week that North Korea’s nuclear programme was going “full steam ahead”.

Source: News Agencies