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Kim Jong Un To Meet South Korea's President In April Summit

Posted: Updated:
PAJU, South Korea -

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village on April 27, the South announced Thursday after the nations agreed on a rare summit that could prove significant in global efforts to resolve a decades-long standoff over the North's nuclear program.

The announcement was made after officials met at the border village of Panmunjom. Few other details were immediately released, but the Koreas plan to hold another preparatory meeting on April 4 to discuss protocol, security and media coverage issues.

The leaders of the two Koreas have held talks only twice since the 1950-53 Korean War, in 2000 and 2007, under previous liberal governments in Seoul. The Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945 into a U.S.-dominated south and Soviet-backed north.

Seoul's Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, one of the three South Korean participants in Thursday's talks, told reporters beforehand that setting up discussions between the leaders on ways to rid the North of its nuclear weapons would be a critical point. The North's three delegates were led by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of a state agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.

The South's delegation arrived in Panmunjom after their vehicles crossed the heavily guarded border near the southern city of Paju.

Greeting the South Korean officials at the North Korea-controlled Tongilgak building, Ri said that the past 80 days have been filled with "unprecedented historic events" between the rivals, referring to the Koreas resuming dialogue before the Winter Olympics in the South and the agreement on the summit. He expressed hopes for an outcome that would meet the "hope and desire of the nation."

Cho, in response, said officials in the preparatory talks should do their best to set up a successful summit as the "current situation was created by decisions from the highest leaders of the North and South."

The talks follow a surprise meeting this week between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which appeared to be aimed at improving both countries' positions ahead of Kim's planned meetings with Moon and President Trump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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