Rival Koreas agree to third summit in Pyongyang

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The rival Koreas have agreed to hold a third summit between their leaders in Pyongyang sometime before the end of September.

The agreement between the two countries’ unification ministers comes amid an ongoing nuclear stand-off between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korea Koreas Summit
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un first met in April in a highly publicised summit and then again in May for more informal talks.

North Korea Koreas Summit
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, second from left, talks with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon, second from right, during a meeting at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone, North Korea (South Korea Unification Ministry/AP)

The meeting between delegations of senior officials from Seoul and Pyongyang comes as experts see slow progress on efforts to disarm North Korea since a June summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Ri Son Gwon, the head of the North Korean delegation, told pool reporters at the end of the talks that officials agreed on a specific date for the summit in Pyongyang sometime within September, but he refused to share the date, saying he wanted to “keep reporters wondering”.

The South Korean unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, told reporters after the meeting that officials still had some work to do before agreeing on when exactly the summit would happen.

He said the two sides will again discuss when the leaders would meet but did not say when.

It was not clear why Mr Ri and Mr Cho differed on the issue of the date, and Mr Cho would not answer a specific question about the discrepancy.

South Korea Koreas Summit
Photos showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and South Korea President Moon Jae-in (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Seoul has been preparing for possible economic collaboration with Pyongyang that could go ahead when sanctions are lifted.

Pyongyang has urged Washington to ease the economic punishments, but the United States says that cannot happen until the North completely denuclearises.

The South Korean envoy said he urged Pyongyang to accelerate its current nuclear negotiations with the United States. The North said it was making efforts to disarm, but Mr Cho said there were no new details on those efforts.

Experts say there has been slow progress on those efforts since the Singapore summit.

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