S Korea special envoy to visit N Korea


North Korea said it would not need nuclear weapons if the "safety of its regime be guaranteed", according to a South Korean official.

Sputnik spoke to Tom Harper, Doctoral Researcher in Politics, at the University of Surrey about meeting between South Korean delegation and with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and what it could mean for north south relations and talks with the US.

Five envoys of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, including Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office of the Blue House, attended a meeting and dinner hosted by Kim for four hours and 12 minutes starting from 6 p.m. on Monday, the Blue House said.

North Korea previously insisted such a move was not on the table.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has held an "open-hearted talk" with envoys for South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

North Korea has promised not to use nuclear or conventional weapons against its southern neighbour, The Associated Press has reported. The dinner included discussions about "easing the acute military tensions on the Korean peninsula" and activating a range of dialogue channels and contacts.

North Korea has been developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the U.S. but Pyongyang and Washington both say they want a diplomatic solution.

Following the meeting, KCNA said Kim Jong-un had "warmly welcomed" the delegates and held an "openhearted talk" with them.

The South Koreans' trip north marks the latest development in President Moon's efforts to broker a diplomatic agreement to the crisis brought about by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

That military posture has concerned North Korea, which says it needs to advance its weapons program to protect itself against potential United States military action.

Relations between the two Koreas have warmed following last month's Winter Olympics, which were held in Pyeongchang in the South.

The agreement came on the heels of a visit made by a 10-member South Korean delegation led by Chung to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Monday in hopes of encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk to one another. Australian authorities have arrested a man accused of trying to broker sales of goods including components for ballistic missiles to North Korea.

But both of Kim's predecessors traveled outside North Korea's borders during their tenures - Kim Il Sung famously visited the Soviet Union and most of eastern Europe by train in 1984.

The Kim dynasty has over the years raised the prospect of abandoning its nuclear weapons program if the U.S. gave up its hostile policies, although serious negotiations have not taken place since six-party talks broke down in 2009. "And they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago and said, 'We would like to talk'".

While a presidential Blue House official told reporters in Seoul there were some achievements from the meeting that were "not disappointing" without elaborating, Moon appeared upbeat in a speech later on Tuesday at a graduation ceremony at South Korea's elite military academy.

Kim was said to have given "important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps for" a summit with Mr Moon, which the North proposed last month.

This is the first time that South Korean government officials have visited the main base of the North's top leadership.

Chung and Suh are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief United States officials on their discussions in the North.