SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK)"s President Moon Jae-in decided Sunday to send his special envoys to the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in an effort to mediate direct talks between the DPRK and the United States.
Yoon Young-chan, senior presidential press secretary, told a press briefing that Moon"s special delegation, composed of five emissaries and five working-level officials, will make a two-day visit to Pyongyang starting Mar 5 for talks with senior DPRK officials.
The delegation will be led by Chung Eui-yong, top national security adviser for Moon and head of the National Security Office of the Blue House.
Suh Hoon, director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country"s spy agency, is included in the delegation along with Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, Second Deputy NIS Director Kim Sang-gyun, and Yun Kun-young, a senior Blue House official.
The special delegation will travel via a western direct route to the DPRK on a special plane Monday afternoon, and will stay in Pyongyang before returning to ROK Tuesday afternoon.
On coming back to Seoul, the special envoys will report to President Moon on their trip to the DPRK, and then will visit the United States to explain the result of dialogues with the DPRK side, said Yoon who noted that ROK will also closely cooperate with China and Japan.
Yoon said the envoys will make a comprehensive discussion with the DPRK side about issues especially on necessary conditions to be created for a dialogue between the DPRK and the United States.
Moon"s plan to send his envoys to Pyongyang and Washington in succession is part of his efforts to play a mediating role in bringing the two countries to a dialogue table to peacefully resolve the peninsula"s nuclear issue.
When he met with Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of top DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, Moon called on Pyongyang to more actively engage in a dialogue with Washington.
The younger Kim came here last month as a special envoy. She conveyed the DPRK leader"s invitation to Moon to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time, and the ROK"s president stressed the need for talks between the DPRK and the United States before the first summit between Moon and Kim.
In response, the DPRK leader delivered his message through Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers" Party of Korea who led a high-ranking DPRK delegation to the Olympic closing ceremony.
During his three-day stay here through Tuesday, the chief DPRK delegate said his country was open to a dialogue with the United States.
On Thursday, Moon had a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump, telling Trump about his plan to dispatch his special envoy to Pyongyang.
During a phone conversation in January, Moon agreed with Trump to delay the joint annual ROK-US war games during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic period after the DPRK showed its willingness to participate in the Winter Olympics. Pyongyang has denounced the war games as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.
The delayed military exercises between ROK and the United States could be conducted after the end of Winter Paralympics on Mar 18.
Chung, the chief ROK"s delegate to Pyongyang, is the highest official on security and foreign affairs, except Moon. He is known to have a direct, close dialogue channel with senior White House officials.