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South Korean leader in Pyongyang to reboot nuclear talks

President Moon Jae-in seeks to push for 'irreversible, permanent peace' and better dialogue between North Korea and US.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has arrived in Pyongyang for his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, seeking to reboot stalled talks with the US over the North's denuclearisation.

Moon and his wife, Kim Jung-sook, were greeted by Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju at Pyongyang's airport on Tuesday.

The two leaders are expected to hold meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and jointly announce the results on the last day if things go smoothly. 

Before his departure from Seoul, Moon said he intended to push for "irreversible, permanent peace" and for better dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

"This summit would be very meaningful if it yielded a resumption of North Korea-US talks," he said.

"It's very important for South and North Korea to meet frequently, and we are turning to a phase where we can meet anytime we want."

But his chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, tried to lower expectations of major progress on the future of Kim's nuclear arsenal, saying it was "difficult to have any optimistic outlook".

Traveling with Moon are business tycoons, including Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong, underscoring Moon's hopes to expand cross-border business projects.

Currently, all major joint projects between the Koreas are stalled because of US-led sanctions.

Thousands of North Koreans cheered and waved flower bouquets as well as national and unification flags.

North Korean soldiers and naval troops quick-marched into position to welcome Moon, and the two leaders inspected the honour guard, according to South Korean media pool footage from the site.

A signboard read: "We ardently welcome President Moon Jae-in."

As Moon arrived, the North's main newspaper said Washington was responsible for the lack of progress in denuclearisation talks.

"The US is totally to blame for the deadlocked DPRK-US negotiations," the Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial.

It said Washington is "stubbornly insisting" the North dismantle its nuclear weapons first, an approach "which was rejected in the past DPRK-US dialogues", while failing to show its will for confidence-building "including the declaration of the end of war, which it had already pledged".

Defence mechanism

North Korea maintains that it has developed its nuclear weapons to the point that it can now defend itself against a potential US attack, and can now shift its focus to economic development and improved ties with the South.

While signaling his willingness to talk to Washington, Kim's strategy has been to try to elbow the US away from Seoul so that the two Koreas can take the lead in deciding how to bring peace and stability to their peninsula.

Talks between the US and North Korea, which Moon brokered through his April and May summits with Kim, have stalled since Kim's meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

North Korea has taken some steps, like dismantling its nuclear and rocket-engine testing sites, but US officials have said it must take more serious disarmament steps before receiving outside concessions.

Trump has indicated he may be open to holding another summit to resuscitate the talks.


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