Kim Jong-un to meet South Korean President in historic summit

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Suga declined to say if a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being discussed.

Kim Jong Un picked China as his first country to visit as North Korea's supreme leader, apparently aiming to improve ties between Pyongyang and Beijing in the run-up to envisioned summits with the South Korean and US leaders.

The announcement on Thursday followed preparatory talks in the border village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone.

Robert Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, said: "Xi would not grant this meeting unless the Chinese were genuinely concerned about the summits to come and wanted some kind of role to play".

The rapid rapprochement was kicked off by the Winter Olympics in the South and comes after a year of heightened tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, which saw Kim and US President Donald Trump engaged in a war of words.

However, Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said most South Koreans have such low expectations of progress with the North that short of starting a war "his credibility does not wrest on the outcome of the talks".

A survey conducted by RealMeter in South Korea on Monday said 73.1 percent of respondents welcomed North Korea's proposal for dialogue and willingness for denuclearisation.

Arguing the nuclear crisis should be resolved through dialogue, China has expressed confidence that the country's efforts have led to an inter-Korean thaw and to a summit expected between the United States and North Korea.

"The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability, while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace".

The last inter-Korean summit was held in October 2007 between then President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader.

Trump-1-1
President Donald Trump speaks at Local 18 Richfield Training Facility Thursday in Richfield. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS AP

North Korea has yet to officially confirm its interest in a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.

"Over the past 80 days, there have been many dramatic events that have not been seen earlier", Ri Son-gwon, the North's chief delegate, said at the start of the meeting.

"Investors seem to be betting on won strength as the so-called "Korea discount" is relatively lifted with tension easing", said Park Jeong-woo, a Seoul-based economist at Korea Investment & Securities, referring to the history of tension between South and North Korea.

The meeting also led to an agreement to establish a hotline between Moon and Kim in the near future, and the two leaders are set to hold a phone call ahead of the summit.

"Moon has also faced the most unpredictable and erratic USA leader in decades, and has had to, in many ways, pick up a lot of diplomatic slack on the issue".

Seoul's Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, one of three South Korean participants in Thursday's talks, told reporters that setting up discussions between the leaders on ways to rid the North of its nuclear weapons would be a critical point.

In his talks with Xi, Kim may have discussed economic cooperation with China or requested a softening of enforcement of sanctions over the North's nukes and missiles.

There seems to be a spring-like weather in political atmosphere of Korean peninsula.

It's unclear whether the leaders' meetings will lead to any meaningful breakthrough.

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