North Korea denies sanctions prompted diplomatic thaw

North Korea denies sanctions prompted diplomatic thaw

The announcement comes after Trump and Kim agreed to discuss denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula in the first face-to-face talks between a North Korean leader and a USA president.

In an unprecedented gambit, Mr Kim sent his younger sister to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea last month and invited Mr Moon to Pyongyang for what would be only the third North-South summit, following meetings in 2000 and 2007. US President Donald Trump has also expressed his readiness to hold talks with Kim.

It will be the first time since 2005 that South Korean performers have gone to North Korea to put on shows.

A six-member South Korean advance team will visit North Korea this week to check venues for a South Korean art troupe's planned performances in Pyongyang, a government official said Wednesday.

The president pointed out that the main goals of the talks were denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and ensuring peace.

"We must completely resolve the issues of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula and establishing peace", he said.

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Choe Kang Il, a senior Pyongyang diplomat handling ties with the USA, is now in Finland for discussions with the retired former U.S. ambassador to Seoul, Kathleen Stephens.

South Korea offered Wednesday to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for holding high-level talks on March 29 at Tongilgak, a DPRK building in the truce village of Panmunjom. He said a trilateral meeting among Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington could be possible, depending on the results of the summits. But leader Kim Jong Un has expressed understanding of the drills this year to the South Koreans.

North and South Korean officials should be able to agree on when the summit between Moon and Kim will take place once the officials from both sides meet this month, the Blue House official said. "It requires a US guarantee, and that would require normalisation of the North-US relationship or even economic cooperation between the two", said Moon. -North Korea talks would be what nuclear disarmament steps Kim would promise in return for what concessions from the United States and whether Trump would accept them.

North Korea has broken its silence on the diplomatic thaw with Washington and Seoul, saying it is driving the "peace offensive" and rejecting suggestions that sanctions forced it to the negotiating table.

That was "thanks to the proactive measure and peace-loving proposal" made by Pyongyang, not Trump's campaign to put maximum pressure on the country, KCNA said in a commentary.

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