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North Korea must 'denuke' before meetings with US

North Korea must 'denuke' before meetings with US

They will visit the reclusive North for two days from Monday and are expected to meet with "high-level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship", Yoon Young-chan, Moon's chief press secretary, told a press briefing.

North Korea's agreement to participate in the February 9-25 Winter Games has led to a remarkable series of diplomatic breakthroughs including a visit by leader Kim Jong Un's sister.

The last time a South Korean president sent a special envoy to North Korea to discuss an inter-Korean summit was in 2007, when then left-leaning President Roh Moo-hyun sent NIS Director Kim Man-bok, paving the way for the second inter-Korean summit later that year.

North Korea has threatened to "counter the US" if it holds joint military exercises with South Korea.

North Korea has appeared quite eager to hold talks with the 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.

Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump spoke with President Moon, according to a White House readout of the call.

Signs of a North-South thaw have prompted speculation that it could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang after months of tension and exchanges of insults between Trump and Kim, that have fuelled fears of war.

But Washington and Pyongyang remained wide apart over the terms for starting such a dialogue, a gap that South Korea's envoys will seek to narrow this week. The intelligence chief is known for his role in secret negotiations with North Korea which helped set up two inter-Korean summits in the 2000s, according to Yonhap. Even if talks begin, they say, the Trump administration will not relent in its campaign of "maximum" pressure until the North gives up its small nuclear arsenal.

"We will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the United States", a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman told the KCNA.

At that time the wives of the American leader did not rule out the possibility of talks between the U.S. and the DPRK, however, directly with his North Korean counterpart do not intend to speak.

They've insisted that this time they would not start a dialogue until the North first took steps that would convince them of its willingness to negotiate away its nuclear weapons.