Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula on Thursday amid a growing confrontation with the United States, according to state media in North Korea.
The dictator has declared similar intentions before, but the latest comments in a meeting with a South Korean delegation in preparation for an inter-Korean summit will boost hopes that diplomacy can return to normal after a difficult period.
The June summit between President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore was followed by a period of tension that did not allow either side to be willing to take any substantive action.
Kim Jong-un meets with South Korea's special envoy, Chung Eui-yong, in Pyongyang on Wednesday, when he repeated his intention to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
The impasse generated widespread skepticism about Trump's claims that Kim intends to dismantle his nuclear weapons program.
The South Korean envoys who met with Kim on Wednesday finalized the dates for a summit later this month between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the driving force behind current diplomacy.
Moon is anxious to keep the nuclear talks alive, in part, in order to advance his ambitious commitment to the North, which would need the support of the United States to succeed.
The date of the talks, which will come on the eve of a meeting of world leaders at the U.N. By the end of September, it will be announced later on Thursday.
Kim was paraphrased in the statement of the Korean Central News Agency saying that it was his will to completely eliminate the danger of armed conflict and the horror of the war on the Korean peninsula and turn it into the cradle of peace without nuclear weapons and free of nuclear threat. & # 39;
KCNA said that Kim and the envoys from South Korea came to a "satisfactory agreement". on his planned summit with Moon.
Moon, who spoke on his plans with President Donald Trump by telephone on Tuesday, said his envoys had a crucial task that could determine prospects for a lasting peace.
While advancing in the summits and inter-Korean commitment, Seoul is trying to persuade Washington and Pyongyang to proceed with the peace and denuclearization processes at the same time so that they can overcome a growing dispute over the sequence of diplomacy.
Kim meets with a security officer within the presidency of the Blue House Chung Eui-yong in Seoul during the preparations for an inter-Korean summit
Seoul also wants a trilateral summit between the countries, or a meeting of four nations that also includes Beijing, to declare the formal end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The General Assembly of the United States at the end of September would be an ideal date for Seoul, but many analysts consider that this possibility is low, taking into account the complications of the process and how far the parties are currently.
US officials have insisted that a declaration of peace, which many see as a precursor to the North calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from the Korean Peninsula, can not occur before North Korea takes more concrete action to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Such steps may include providing an account of the components of your nuclear program, allowing external inspections and relinquishing a certain number of your nuclear weapons during the early stages of negotiations.
While an end-of-war declaration would not imply a legally binding peace treaty, experts say it could generate a political impetus that would make it easier for North Korea to lead discussions toward a regime of peace, diplomatic recognition, economic benefits and security concessions. .
North Korea has accused the United States of making "unilateral and gangster" demands for denuclearization and withholding the declaration of an end to the war.
Kim's commitment in Wednesday's talks will boost hopes that diplomacy can get back on track after a difficult period
The Foreign Ministry of North Korea published a long statement on its website on Tuesday saying that an end-of-war declaration would be a necessary step in building confidence among the enemies of the war that "would manifest the political will to establish a stable and lasting peace regime. " the Korean peninsula & # 39;
South Korean officials said an end-of-war statement would be among the topics discussed at meetings between South Korean envoys and North Korean officials.
"Our government believes that an end-of-war declaration is very necessary as we enter into a process to stabilize peace on the Korean peninsula through complete denuclearization," said Chung Eui-yong, Moon's national security adviser. head of the Republic of Korea. delegation to Pyongyang, at a press conference on Tuesday.
"We will continue to strive so that an end-of-war declaration can be reached before the end of the year." We always maintain close communication with the United States. "
After their Singapore summit, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement about a nuclear-weapon-free peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.
The post-summit nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang were unstable and quickly settled into a stalemate.
While the United States contends that efforts to improve relations between the two Koreas should move in tandem with efforts to denuclearize North Korea, Moon said recently that inter-Korean engagement could take the initiative.
"If necessary, we should push forward the negotiations for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula with the development of relations between the south and the north," Chung said.
Any progress could depend on whether Moon's envoys were able to convince North Korea's stronger verbal commitment to denuclearization to help the nuclear talks between the United States and Pyongyang get back on track.
The June summit between President Donald Trump (pictured on Wednesday) and Kim in Singapore was followed by a period of tension that did not allow either side to be willing to make any substantive moves.
Trump suspended a planned visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, citing insufficient progress in denuclearization.
The resumption of talks between the US UU And North Korea sometime before the next inter-Korean summit, which is likely to take place in mid-September, could help Moon to work more when he arrives in Pyongyang.
The two previous inter-Korean summits in April and May removed fears of war and initiated a global diplomatic push that culminated in the meeting between Kim and Trump in June.
But Moon faces more difficult challenges in his third meeting with Kim with the stalemate in the nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, raising fundamental questions about Kim's supposed will to abandon its nuclear weapons.
The Korean War ended with an armistice, leaving the peninsula technically still at war. Moon has made the declaration of the end of the war an important premise of his peace agenda with North Korea.