North Korean leader to visit Seoul ‘soon,’ Moon says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Seoul “soon” and a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is “near at hand,” South Korea’s president said Thursday.

Moon Jae-in’s comments underscore a new push in a diplomatic offensive to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons and prevent a resurgence in tensions that raised fears of a new war on the divided peninsula last year.

Kim would become the first North Korean leader to visit Seoul since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

Moon, the son of North Korean refugees who took office promising to pursue engagement with the communist state, expressed hope that the adversaries would achieve denuclearization and peace on the peninsula, despite recent setbacks.

“The second North-U.S. summit is near at hand,” he said in a major policy speech, adding that Kim’s visit to Seoul “will also take place soon.”

“A historic starting point for mutual prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia is just ahead of us,” he said. “This is an opportunity that came to us like a miracle. This is an opportunity we must not lose.”

The two Koreas have moved rapidly to improve relations despite slow progress in U.S.-North Korean nuclear talks.

Kim, whose family has ruled the North since it was founded in 1948, said he would visit Seoul “in the near future” during his second summit with Moon in Pyongyang last month.

Moon has previously suggested the visit would happen before the end of the year, but South Korean media have speculated recently that it would be pushed back to next year following an expected U.S.-North Korean summit.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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