Reuters SEOUL (Reuters) — A South Korean delegation met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday, a South Korean official said, after arriving in the North on a visit aimed at encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk.
Both North Korea and the United States have expressed a willingness to talk, but U.S. President Donald Trump demands the North first gives up its nuclear weapons program.
The North, which has vowed never to give up its nuclear deterrent against what it sees as U.S. hostility, says it will not sit down to talks under preconditions.
Reclusive North Korea, which has made no secret of its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the mainland United States in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, is also concerned about a joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise, which it sees as preparation for war.
South Korean officials have said the drill will start next month as planned, after being postponed for the Winter Olympics held last month in South Korea.
The 10-member South Korean delegation, led by National Security Office head Chung Eui Yong, was greeted by North Korean officials after landing in Pyongyang, said Kim Eui Kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office.
The North Koreans at the airport included Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country and Kim Yong Chol, who heads the United Front Department, the North Korean office responsible for handling inter-Korean affairs. Both visited South Korea last month during the Winter Olympics.
The South Korean delegation was later invited to join Kim Jong Un at a dinner, the South Korean spokesman added.