- Associated Press - Thursday, March 29, 2018

PAJU, South Korea (AP) - The Latest on North Korean diplomacy (all times local):

5 p.m.

Japan’s government spokesman says his country has been in touch with North Korea, but refuses to say whether a possible meeting between their leaders is being discussed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, responding to a question Thursday about reports of such talks, said Japan has all along communicated with North Korea via multiple channels. Suga declined to say if a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being discussed.

The Asahi newspaper reported Thursday that Kim’s administration has mentioned a possible summit with Abe in June following one with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Suga welcomed plans for an April 27 meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas as a sign of progress resulting from international pressure on North Korea.


4:05 p.m.

A senior South Korean official says the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be shaped by discussions on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said officials from both Koreas exchanged opinions on the agendas of the summit but Cho didn’t provide a clear answer on whether Thursday’s discussions included the nuclear issue.

Cho says both sides will continue working-level discussions while focusing on the issues surrounding the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the stabilization of peace and the development relations between the South and North.”

When asked whether such issues would shape the discussions between Kim and Moon, Cho said “yes.”

North Korean official Ri Son Gwon after the meeting hailed the agreement over the summit he said provides “immense expectations and new hope for the entire nation that desires for peace on the Korean Peninsula.” He called for officials from both countries to do their best to “perfectly secure the historic meeting between the leaders.”


2:40 p.m.

South Korean officials say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village on April 27.

The third summit ever between the Koreas could prove significant in the global diplomatic push to resolve the standoff over the North’s nuclear program.

The announcement was made after a high-level meeting Thursday between the countries at the border village of Panmunjom. Few other details were released.

The Koreas will hold another preparatory meeting April 4 to discuss protocol, security and media coverage issues.

The current talks follow a surprise meeting this week between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kim may also meet with President Donald Trump.


12:30 p.m.

South Korea’s presidential office says a Chinese official is heading to Seoul to brief President Moon Jae-in about the summit this week between North Korea’s and China’s leaders.

The two-day trip by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi follows talks earlier this week between Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom in a statement on Thursday called it an encouraging sign that Kim expressed firm willingness for dialogue with South Korea and the United States during his visit to Beijing.

North Korea has yet to officially confirm its interest in a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump. The North’s official media omitted Kim’s reported comments opening dialogue with the United States that were carried in Chinese state media.


10:30 a.m.

The rival Koreas have begun high-level talks to prepare for an April summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the standoff over the North’s nuclear program.

South Korean officials led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon on Thursday arrived for the talks at the northern side of the Panmunjom border village.

The North’s delegation is led by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of an agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.

The talks follow the summit earlier this week between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

A summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is also anticipated by the end of May.

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