South and North Korea will hold the third-ever meeting of their leaders on April 27, as both sides confirmed plans for the summit during high-level talks at their closely guarded border Thursday.
The meeting between the North’s ruler Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, will take place at the so-called Peace House on the southern side of the Koreas’ heavily fortified border village of Panmunjom, according to a joint statement.
“The April summit will be another start of a great journey to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, bring peace to the peninsula and develop inter-Korean ties,” Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, the South’s chief delegate for Thursday’s talks, said in comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.
It will be the first inter-Korean summit since 2007, a delay that may be partly explained by Moon’s status as his country’s first left-leaning leader in a decade — bilateral ties completely broke down in the interim over the course of two conservative administrations.
Unlike his liberal predecessors, Moon will not have to travel to Pyongyang.
Kim’s apparent willingness to visit the southern portion of the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone comes after his surprise trip to China this week, which was his first overseas trip since taking power in 2011.
Speculation has been building that North Korea is being forced into engagement by crippling global sanctions aimed at ending its rogue development of nuclear weapons.
This year’s planned summits follow a series of inter-Korean meetings since January that included cooperative efforts in line with the South hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
North Korea’s leader — who is additionally set for a landmark meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in May — has suggested he is ready to discuss denuclearization as long as Seoul and Washington also take steps towards peace.