Two Koreas in high-level talks ahead of summit

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The high-level meeting Thursday was held in Tongilgak, a North Korean-controlled building in Panmunjom, to iron out specifics for the upcoming South-North summit, which both countries previously agreed to hold in Peace House, a South Korean-controlled building in Panmunjom.

South Korea and North Korea kicked off high-level talks today to discuss details about preparations for an inter-Korean summit slated for late April.

The two Koreas agreed earlier this month to hold a summit at a South Korean facility in the truce village of Panmunjom.

Both sides agreed to hold working-level talks next Wednesday to discuss protocol and security related to the summit.

South Korea's lead negotiator, minister Cho, confirmed Moon's goals have not changed. The Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945 into a US-dominated south and Soviet-backed north. The announcement comes after DPRK leader Kim Jong-un's reiterated his country's commitment to denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula during a visit to Beijng. The meeting followed a sudden period of inter-Korean warmth over February's Winter Olympics in the South, where the North sent hundreds of officials, including Kim's sister who met with Moon to deliver his brother's desire for a summit.

"It is our hope that all people will become one so the summit can become a groundbreaking opportunity to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula", he said, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

The agreement on the date for the upcoming meeting comes after Kim traveled to China and met with its leader Xi Jinping, who has always been the hermit kingdom's biggest ally but has recently agreed to stricter sanctions against it.

Trump and Kim had exchanged insults and veiled threats of war in recent months but the US leader made the surprising announcement this month that he was prepared to meet Kim to discuss the crisis over the North's development of weapons.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) shakes hands with South Korean chief delegator Chung Eui-yong (R), who travelled as envoys of the South's President Moon Jae-in, during their meeting in Pyongyang on March 5, 2018.

In setting up separate talks with Beijing, Seoul, Washington, and potentially Moscow and Tokyo, North Korea may be moving to disrupt any united front among its negotiating counterparts.

It appears Trump believes holding up what he considers a "wonderful deal" for the USA until later in the North Korea negotiations will help keep pressure on South Korea to facilitate the talks.

The North also called for the two Koreas to sign a nonaggression treaty and replace the current armistice with a peace treaty, while suggesting the new entity would join the United Nations under a single name.

Kim Jong-un's visit to Beijing was his first overseas trip since inheriting power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.

As both China and North Korea are socialist countries, Kim also appears to trust Beijing over Washington, the source said, adding that without China's backing, he might feel unable to negotiate with Trump on an equal footing. Japan's Asahi newspaper said Japan had sounded out the North Korean government about a summit.

Yang is expected to meet other security and diplomatic officials and brief them on Kim's visit.

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