North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un inviting South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang is a positive signal for peace on the Korean Peninsula but the US attitude remains a key barrier to the mediation process, Chinese experts said Saturday.
Kim invited Moon for talks in Pyongyang, South Korean officials said Saturday, setting the stage for the first summit of South and North Korean leaders in more than a decade, Reuters reported.
The personal invitation from Kim was delivered by his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, during talks and a lunch Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Reuters reported.
Kim Jong-un wanted to meet Moon "at an early date" and Moon said "let's create conditions to make it happen," Blue House spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing. A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation, Reuters reported.
"This is a great signal," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday.
"In the past two years, the situation on the peninsula has been intense and all parties have been looking for ways to eliminate the factors that might trigger a war," he said.
"The interactions in the past month have been effective in relieving the tense situation and the possibility of war, and the peninsula mediation finally saw a positive beginning," Zheng said.
High-level dialogue between the two Koreas was held in January. During the first inter-Korean talks in over two years, North Korea agreed to send athletes, cheerleaders and artists as well as a high-ranking delegation to the Winter Games, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
"The actions North Korea has been taking around the Winter Olympic Games show that it wants to be the dominant side in the process of mediation," Lü Chao, a research fellow with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Saturday.
North Korea has been under great pressure and so it might consider South Korea as the most vulnerable link in international society to break through the UN sanctions, Zheng said.
"It is very likely Moon will visit Pyongyang as that caters to Moon's personal faith and South Korea's desire to resolve its economic and security dilemmas," Lü said. "Considering the current situation, North Korea might also postpone its nuclear tests."
There has been no such summit in a decade. Late South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun met Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in 2007, the second summit between the two Koreas after late South Korean president Kim Dae-jung met Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in 2000.
Washington will not warm to friendly interactions between the two Koreas, analysts noted.
"It is out of US control… After the Games, when and how South Korea and the US restart joint drills could show how much Donald Trump wants Moon to be tough again with North Korea," Zheng said.
If Moon wants less barriers and pressure from the US, it will be necessary for him to seek out China and Russia as well as overcome domestic conservatives' opposition toward improving relations with the North, Zheng noted.