South Korea has confirmed that the first military talks with North Korea in two years will take place on Thursday.
Pyongyang proposed the talks two weeks ago, amid what observers describe as signs of easing tensions on the peninsula.
The news of the talks comes as North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il anointed his youngest son as his successor.
Kim Jong-un has been made second in command to his father in the ruling party.
Shaun Cochran, the head of research at CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, said: “The process going on now is about stability. It’s likely that the stroke of Kim Jong-il, or suspected stroke of Kim Jong-il, triggered the urgency around the succession. And really the goal here is to make sure that both locally, within North Korea, and around the global community, to feel there is a means for the leadership to continue.”
Commentators say the existence of Kim Jong-un had been kept a secret until this week, even in North Korea.