North Korea OKs South Korean delegation for June anniversary

June 5 (UPI) — Delegates of North and South Korea may meet for the first time in nearly a decade to observe the anniversary of a historic inter-Korea summit on June 15, if Seoul approves an application for a visit.

South Korean members of the June 15 Joint Declaration Committee might be celebrating the 17th anniversary of the document signing with their North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang, South Korean news service News 1 reported Monday.

Representatives of the committee said it received approval from the South Korean government to contact North Korea regarding the event, including a time and place to observe the anniversary.

North Korea replied to the committee’s request, the first time Pyongyang has done so since Seoul’s unification ministry approved civilian outreach to North Korean groups May 26.

According to the committee, the North Koreans said it would be “difficult to meet in Kaesong,” and suggested Pyongyang instead.

“Since the event is being held in the North, we decided to respect their opinions and decided to hold it in Pyongyang,” the committee said.

The group will travel in mid-June, pending approval from Seoul.

The South Korean committee last held a joint observation of the anniversary with the North in June 2008, during the administration of conservative President Lee Myung-bak.

A downturn in relations, expedited by the torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the shelling of a South Korean island, brought an end to the annual gathering.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in had pledged to take a more conciliatory approach to North Korea to mitigate provocations, and members of his new administration are taking steps to revoke practices that may have been in place under Park Geun-hye, the former president.

Seoul’s new spy agency chief Suh Hoon said Thursday he would shut down any domestic intelligence operations and undertake reform of South Korea’s national intelligence service, Yonhap reported.

NIS agents have been accused of manipulating public opinion in online postings in order to sway the 2012 presidential elections in favor of Park, when she ran against Moon.

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