By Soyoung Kim and Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Friday it will dispatch special envoys to the North Korean capital on September 5 to discuss the timing of a summit between the two countries’ leaders expected to take place later in the month.
The special envoy will also discuss “establishing peace,” “advancing inter-Korean ties,” and the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House.
The South had earlier on Friday proposed sending the envoys, and the North accepted, Kim said.
He did not identify who the envoys would be.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in would be the first South Korean president to visit Pyongyang since 2007, but the planned summit has been overshadowed by signs of mounting tension between North Korea and the United States over the future of the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
Last week U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly called off a visit to Pyongyang by his secretary of state and his own newly named special envoy for North Korea, complaining of a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.
The cancellation came just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced the planned visit and publicly acknowledged for the first time that his efforts to get Pyongyang to denuclearize had stalled.
Trump later hailed his personal relationship North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and rowed back on suggestions by Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis that the United States might resume war games with South Korea.
North Korean state media has also been critical of the United States, complaining that Washington was failing to live up to promises to revamp the two countries’ relations.
North Korea has been seeking relief from tough international sanctions and a formal conclusion to the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
The first meeting between Moon and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Panmunjom in April was the high point of a remarkable thaw in ties after more than a year of rising tension and fears of war over the North’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
At that meeting, they agreed that Moon would visit the North’s capital in the autumn, though the pair met again in May in an unannounced meeting, also in Panmunjom.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)