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Rival Koreas set Monday meeting to prepare for leaders' summit

Rival Koreas set Monday meeting to prepare for leaders' summit
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks at the presidential office in Seoul on July 27. (Yonhap / EPA/Shutterstock)

Representatives of the rival Koreas will meet Monday for high-level talks meant to prepare for a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, South Korea said, the third such meeting between the leaders in recent months.

The announcement Thursday by the South's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean issues for Seoul, comes amid attempts by Washington and Pyongyang to follow through on nuclear disarmament vows made at a summit in June between President Trump and Kim.

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Pyongyang has also stepped up its calls for a formal end to the Korean War, which some analysts believe is meant to be the first step in the North's effort to eventually see all 28,500 U.S. troops leave the Korean peninsula. Washington is pushing for the North to begin giving up its nuclear program.

A South Korean official at the Unification Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules, said the two Koreas will also discuss ways to push through tension-reducing agreements made during an earlier summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon. Among the agreements was holding another inter-Korean summit in the fall in Pyongyang.

The rival Koreas may try to seek a breakthrough amid what experts see as little progress on North Korean nuclear disarmament despite the Singapore summit in June and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo's several visits to North Korea.

Pyongyang insisted that the U.S. should reciprocate to the North's suspension of missile launches and nuclear tests and other goodwill gestures such as the return of remains of American troops killed in the Korean War. The United States has dismissed calls to ease sanctions until the North delivers on its commitments to fully denuclearize.

The inter-Korean meeting on Monday is to be held at Tongilgak, a North Korean-controlled building in the border village of Panmunjom. It wasn't clear who would attend the talks, but such meetings have typically been handled in the past by South Korea's unification minister and his counterpart in the North. It also wasn't clear when another summit might happen, but if the April 27 summit agreements are followed through, the leaders will likely meet in Pyongyang in the next couple of months.

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