North Korea's Summit Offer Could Test US-South Korea's United Nuclear Front

South Korean President Moon Jae-in left shakes hands with Ri Son Gwon chairman of the North Korea's agency that deals with inter Korean affairs as Kim Yo Jong right sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Kim Yong Nam North Korea's

'It's a breakthrough': Jong-un opens door to historic Korean summit

"Ultimately, North Korea's objective is to normalize its status as a nuclear power so that it can push for sanctions relief without giving up its weapons", said Troy Stangarone, a senior director at the Korea Economic Institute in Washington. Since the war, the leaders of the two Koreas held formal talks only twice, in 2000 and 2007.

An editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read: "What can not be overlooked is that Moon did not directly demand North Korea to abandon its nuclear development.

Moon should be aware that he has to urge denuclearisation to North Korea by himself, not depending on dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea".

The hermit kingdom has been slapped with round after round of sanctions, aimed at strangling its resources and forcing the regime to reign in its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Though Moon has used the Olympics to resurrect meaningful communication with North Korea after an extended period of animosity and a diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear program, he didn't immediately jump on the North Korean offer for a summit.

Sunday's KCNA report cited Moon as saying inter-Korean relations should be mended by the parties concerned "at any cost as indicated by Chairman Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address".

North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong (L) hands over an autographed letter from Kim Jong-un to South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (R) during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on 10 February, 2018.

President Donald Trump's administration has taken a hard line on North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programme, saying there is no room for negotiations unless Pyongyang abandons it.

Joseph DeTrani, who helped broker a 2005 agreement on North Korea's nuclear program, said Moon should attend the summit if Kim Jong-un agrees to discuss nuclear and missile issues and return to the six-party talks on denuclearization.

The North Korean delegation arrived in the South on Kim's private plane on Friday via Incheon worldwide airport to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyongchang Winter Olympics where Seoul and Pyongyang are represented by joint teams.

Moon responded to the invitation by suggesting the two countries "should accomplish this by creating the right conditions", adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that North Korea be more active in talking with the USA, according to the spokesman.

However, South Korea's main opposition party warned that any talks between the two Koreas where the scrapping of North Korea's nuclear program was not a precondition would only "benefit the enemy".

It was an extremely rare move as the two nations remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire. The North, meanwhile, insisted it has "no intention to meet the USA side".

Seoul made a standing offer to North Korea previous year regarding another such reunion, details of which have yet to be hammered out between North and South Korea.

Moon hoped to use the Olympics to ease tensions and North Korea agreed to send high-profile officials as well as athletes.

The United States and Japan are anxious that Pyongyang is apparently trying to weaken global economic sanctions against it by cozying up to South Korea and buy more time to advance its missile and nuclear technology.

At the Olympic opening ceremonies Friday, Mr. Pence made no contact with the North Korean political delegation, despite being seated a few metres from Ms. Kim.

The latest North Korean diplomatic overture does not appear to have discouraged Washington from pursuing its strategy of pressure.

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