SEOUL, South Korea - On Saturday, South Korean President Moon Jae In’s office confirmed that he had received an invitation to visit North Korea from its leader Kim Jong Un.
The invitation was reportedly extended by Kim Jong Un’s sister, who is visiting the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Kim Jong Un has reportedly requested the meeting "at an early date" through his sister Kim Yo Jong, who is a representative of the North Korean delegation at the Olympics.
In a statement, the South Korean President said that the two nations should "work together to create the environment to make it happen,” signaling a rare diplomatic opportunity for the two Koreas that have been divided since 1953.
Jae In’s spokesperson added that the North Korean leader “said he was willing to meet President Moon Jae-in at an early date and asked him to visit North Korea at a convenient date.”
According to experts, the meeting would be the first official talks between the two rival nations in ten years.
Previously, Kim Jong il, the current North Korean leader’s father, had met with two South Korean presidents in Pyongyang before his death in 2011.
Jong il met with President Kim Dae Jung in 2000, and with President Roh Moo hyun in 2007.
Both of those South Korean presidents had struggled under growing domestic criticism after their trips to Pyongyang had resulted in large shipments of aid and investment.
However, both the visits failed to end the North’s nuclear weapons program.
However, Moon Jae In has stressed that any talks with North Korea should be focused on brokering peace between the two nations.
Further, he has pointedly stated that South Korea would not meet the North without its assurances of working to de-escalate the nuclear tensions on the peninsula.
Creating history at the Olympics on Friday, the two Korean nations marched together during the opening ceremony, under a banner showing a united Korean Peninsula.
Commenting on the cooperation, Moon's office said, "The South and North shared an understanding that they should continue the positive mood for peace and reconciliation created by the Pyeongchang Olympics and should promote inter-Korean dialogue, exchanges and cooperation.”
Meanwhile, experts who have watched the relationship between the two Koreas over the last decade were quick to pointed out that the overture by the North also risked driving a wedge between South Korea and the United States, its main military ally, which has been campaigning for “maximum sanctions and pressure” against North Korea.