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South Korea meets North Korea ahead of United States talks

South Korea meets North Korea ahead of United States talks

"The two sides will discuss to produce a reasonable pact that can help strengthen the joint defense readiness of South Korea and the US and be accepted by our people", the South Korean Foreign Ministry said, according to Yonhap news agency.

"Chairman Kim Jong-un is now hosting a dinner for the special envoys", Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a press briefing.

In a speech Saturday night in Washington, Mr. Trump said offhandedly that the North Koreans had "called up a couple of days ago and said, 'We would like to talk, ' and I said, 'So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke'".

It is a challenging task - in defiance of United Nations sanctions, the isolated and impoverished North past year staged its most powerful nuclear test and test-fired several missiles, some of them capable of reaching the USA mainland.

In a separate report, the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station said the South Koreans were welcomed by Ri Son-gwon, chief of a North Korean agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a South Korean presidential delegation for dinner in Pyongyang on Monday, a surprising start to an expected two days of meetings that may include establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of the North's nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and the North.

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National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong (centre) and others of the South Korean delegation were met at Pyongyang airport by senior North Korean officials, a lot of them involved in the moribund reunification effort. The president made the comments at the annual Gridiron Dinner - an event centered around joke-filled monologues offered up annually by sitting American presidents to journalists.

The delegation, representing the South's President Moon Jae-in, is pushing for talks between the nuclear-armed regime and the United States, after Kim sent his sister Kim Yo Jong to the Winter Games in the South. In November, Moon reportedly convinced Trump to visit the U.S. Army's newly expanded Camp Humphreys to showcase that South Korea paid for 92 percent of the $10.7 billion project.

Chung is expected to travel to Washington after returning from Pyongyang to brief Trump administration officials on the meeting.

The South Korean delegation consisted of five special envoys, including Suh Hoon, chief of the country's spy agency National Intelligence Service, and five support staff. He said he'll push for "in-depth" talks to find ways to help arrange the restart of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

Chung and Suh are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief USA officials on their discussions in the North.

But the United States has ruled out any possibility of talks before the North takes steps towards denuclearisation, and imposed what Trump hailed as the "toughest ever" sanctions on Kim's regime late last month.