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Kim Jong Un Holds First Known Meeting With Seoul

Monday - 05/03/2018 21:51
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a high-level political delegation from the South for dinner Monday in Pyongyang and accelerated preparations for an inter-Korean summit. 

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) - A letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in was delivered to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday in Pyongyang during a visit by a high-ranking South Korean delegation, North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA reported.

Earlier Monday, Kim hosted a dinner for the delegation, according to a South Korean government official. Kim and the delegation discussed improving North-South relations and easing military tensions on the Korean peninsula, KCNA reported.

It's believed to be the first time the young leader has spoken face-to-face with officials from the South since he took power in 2011. Among those Kim met were South Korea's national security chief, Chung Eui-yong, and the country's top spy, Suh Hoon.

Their trip north is part of Moon's attempt to broker a diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear weapons program in the wake of the thaw brought about by North Korea's attendance at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last month.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center right) sits with a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang and other high-level North Koreans.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center right) sits with a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang and other high-level North Koreans.

It's a dramatic departure from 2017, when a string of North Korean weapons tests and hostile rhetoric from US President Donald Trump and Kim heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"Kim Jong Un as a leader has kept himself highly circumscribed. This is not someone who has met with many non-North Koreans in almost six years," said John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Relations in Seoul.

"It's a major signal of his personal commitment to this process and it gives the South Koreans, for the first time, someone can get a read on Kim Jong Un himself."

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