Kim Jong-un invites South Korean President Moon to Pyongyang

Related Story: Amid fears of war, North Korea reopens key border hotline with South

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang "at an early date", the presidential Blue House in Seoul said, potentially setting up the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than 10 years.

Mr Kim's sister Kim Yo-jong, who is visiting South Korea to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, delivered her brother's personal invitation during a meeting with Mr Moon at the Blue House, a presidential spokesman said.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power last year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programme last year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

Mr Moon suggested the two Koreas "make it happen" by creating conditions necessary for him to accept the invitation, the spokesman told a news briefing.

Ms Kim arrived in South Korea on Friday with Kim Yong-nam, the North's nominal head of state, for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the alpine resort town of Pyeongchang.

They shook hands with Mr Moon and cheered for athletes from the two countries who marched under a unified peninsula flag for the first time in a decade.

Some North Korean experts believe tough UN sanctions that are cutting off most of the isolated North's sources of revenue have added pressure on Pyongyang to engage further with Seoul.

"I think this overture towards South Korea is partly sanctions-related, and also related to the fact that it's clear a divergence has developed between Washington and Seoul's most keenly desired goals in the near term," said Andray Abrahamian, a research fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS in Hawaii.

"The North Koreans should understand that for a summit or any kind of serious talks to occur, Moon needs to be able to take something to Washington — something that addresses denuclearisation," he said before the North's invitation to Mr Moon was announced.

A visit by Mr Moon to the North would enable the first summit between leaders from the two Koreas since 2007.


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