Asia Pacific / Politics

South Korean President Moon Jae-in to dispatch special envoy to North Korea next week

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will dispatch a special envoy to North Korea next week to discuss a scheduled summit with leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, as well as ways to salvage stalled denuclearization talks with the United States, the presidential Blue House said in a statement Friday.

The yet-to-be-named special envoy was to travel to the North Korean capital on Wednesday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom as saying.

“The special envoy will discuss a wide range of issues, including the date for the upcoming summit and ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the spokesman said.

He said Seoul made the proposal earlier Friday, but did not say how long the envoy’s visit will last. North Korea accepted the offer in a telegram sent in the afternoon, Yonhap reported.

The rival Koreas agreed on a visit by Moon to Pyongyang before the end of September during high-level talks earlier this month.

Recent events — including the apparent impasse in nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington — had thrown that summit into doubt.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week canceled a planned trip to Pyongyang by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just hours before the top U.S. diplomat was due to leave, after receiving a belligerent secret letter from North Korea’s No. 2, Kim Yong Chol, that put the possibility of a successful visit in doubt, according to media reports.

While the exact contents of the message were unclear, The Washington Post reported that it was “sufficiently belligerent” that Trump and Pompeo decided to call off what would have been the diplomat’s fourth visit to Pyongyang.

On Tuesday, the Blue House stressed that the need for another Kim-Moon summit, which would be the pair’s third, had become greater after the canceled U.S.-North Korea talks.

“The need for a South-North Korean summit has rather become greater because of the standoff between the United States and North Korea,” Blue House spokesman Kim said.

“We expect the South-North summit to play a role in paving the way and further expanding the path,” he added.

The two leaders last met at the border village of Panmunjom on May 26.