South Korean envoys to North Korea aim at US talks

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in is planning to send special envoys to North Korea on Monday to encourage talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

National Intelligence Chief Suh Hoon and National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong will lead a five-member delegation on the two-day trip.

“Special envoys to the North is in reciprocation to Kim Jong Un’s special envoy Kim Yo Jong’s visit to the South,” said Yoon Young-chan, chief presidential press secretary.

Representatives from the North and South held extensive talks in the days surrounding the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics hosted in Pyeongchang.

North Korea has appeared quite eager to hold talks with the U.S. in recent weeks, softening the language and tone of previous public announcements that referred to the “U.S. imperialists’ plot” to invade and annihilate the North.

Korean Central News Agency, the North’s state-controlled media arm, reported on Saturday that the nation’s foreign ministry will “never beg” for talks and described the U.S. as “fooling around” for demanding preconditions, but stressed an atmosphere of diplomacy, negotiation and peaceful resolution.

“It is our consistent and principled position to solve problems diplomatically and peacefully,” according to the KCNA article. “The dialogue that we are aiming at is one that discusses issues of mutual interest among countries in an equal footing.”

The U.S. recently ordered new sanctions against North Korea and warned of a potential military blockade to deny access to materials that could be used for missiles.

For Kim, it is considered crucial he is seen by his people as strong and respected by both the South and the U.S., with the three nations negotiating as peers, analysts in Seoul said.

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