Kim Jong Un is willing to give up nuclear weapons if the security of his regime is guaranteed, says South Korea, after he reportedly said it was the last wish of his father.
An envoy from Seoul made the announcement after meeting the North Korean leader, who is also said to be open to frank talks with the US.
The North made clear its willingness for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and made clear that there is no reason to own nuclear (programmes) if military threats towards the North are cleared and the security of its regime is guaranteed, said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong.
North Korea previously insisted such a move was not on the table.
Chairman Kim said that even denuclearisation could be among the agenda items for talks between North Korea and the US, a South Korean official told the country’s Yonhap news agency.
Kim Jong Un made clear that achieving denuclearisation is his father’s dying wish and that it has not been changed at all, according to the official – who was speaking anonymously.
The two Koreas, whose relations have warmed of late, have agreed to set up a leader to leader hotline and hold a summit at their heavily armed border.
Next month’s meeting, in the village of Panmunjom, will be only their third summit since the Korea war ended in 1953.
Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in will have their first phone conversation before the summit, said the South’s national security adviser.
North Korea’s nuclear tests have sparked threats of war and insults between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, and the ramping up of sanctions against the secretive regime.
Its last rocket test was in November.
Chung Eui-yong – who led diplomats on their trip to see the leader in Pyongyang – said he would next visit the US to deliver a message from North Korea to President Trump.
America has insisted that concrete steps are taken towards denuclearisation before talks are possible.
Relations between the two Koreas have warmed recently and Seoul said the meeting between their officials and Kim Jong Un had lasted more than four hours.
State media in the North showed its leader smiling and enthusiastically shaking hands.
Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-In for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, he exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement, said North Korea’s KCNA news agency.
The rapprochement comes after Kim Jong Un’s sister went to the Winter Olympics along with one of her brother’s right-hand men, and the countries also fielded a joint ice hockey team.