Kim Jong-un’s sister says North Korea open to talks with South if Seoul shows ‘respect’


The influential sister of North Korea’s leader said that an inter-Korean summit could take place, but only if mutual “respect” and “impartiality” are guaranteed.

The statement on Saturday was the second in two days by Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister and key adviser. She had on Friday urged Seoul to end its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang after South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in called for the declaration of an official end to the state of war with the North.

The 1950-53 war between the two Koreas ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving Seoul and Pyongyang technically at war for over half a century.

South Korea welcomed the prospect on Sunday, with the unification ministry saying it expected to swiftly engage in talks with Pyongyang, while urging the need to restore a hotline link between the two.

Analysts say North Korea is using Moon’s desire for inter-Korean engagement to pressure Seoul to persuade the Biden administration to ease crippling US-led sanctions over the North‘s nuclear weapons program or suspend combined US-South Korean military exercises.

An inter-Korean summit between Kim Jong-un and Moon could be held “only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other” are guaranteed, Kim Yo-jong said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency.

She also said a summit, as well as discussions on a declaration to end the war, could be held “at an early date through constructive discussions”.

“There is no need for the North and the South to waste time faulting each other and engaging in a war of words,” she added.

In Saturday’s remarks, Kim said she noted with interest the intense discussion in the South over the renewed prospect of a formal declaration.

“I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong,” she said. “We, too, have the same desire.”

On Sunday, responding to the remarks, Seoul’s unification ministry said in a statement: “For these discussions, the inter-Korean communication line must first be restored swiftly, as smooth and stable communication is important.”

The hotline, maintained by South Korea’s military to handle relations with Pyongyang, has not operated since August, as North Korea stopped answering calls.

Kim on Saturday reiterated calls for the South to drop its “unequal double-standards”, in an apparent reference to Moon’s criticism of the North’s recent missile launches.

Last week, the South successfully test-fired successful a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), making it one of a handful of nations with the advanced technology.

North Korea has carried out two missile firings this month alone, one involving a long-range cruise missile and the other short-range ballistic missiles.

Communications between the North and South have largely been cut in the aftermath of a second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February 2019, which collapsed after then-president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un couldn’t settle on the terms of an agreement.

With Associated Press and Agence-France Presse