Senior North Korean communist party officials were expected to have an unprecedented meeting in South Korea's parliament with lawmakers on Tuesday, officials said.
Kim Ki-nam, who is also a vice chairman of the North's body overseeing ties with the South, was scheduled to meet with the speaker of South Korea's parliament and legislative leaders, officials from South Korea's Unification Ministry said.
Members of the delegation may also meet former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in 2000 in the first and only summit of leaders on the divided peninsula. The former South Korean president has been in hospital with pneumonia.
"The visit will be limited to a small group," a South Korean official said explaining the visit.
A 182-member North Korean delegation is in the South for joint celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Members of the delegation, which arrived on Sunday, are scheduled to meet South Korea's President Roh Moo-yun before returning to Pyongyang on Wednesday, reports Reuters.
Kim Ki-nam heads the North’s 182-member delegation to the inter-Korean festivities marking the 60th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule, praised the former president’s efforts to build peaceful relations between the two Koreas, referring to the first-ever summit meeting between the leaders of the South and North on July 15, 2000.
Expressing his gratitude for the message from the North’s leader, the 79-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner accepted the invitation, saying, "I’ll visit Pyongyang again at an appropriate time."
"The June 15 inter-Korean summit was a starting point toward cooperative relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. And I believe the visit of the North Korean delegation to South Korea at this time is a springboard for reunification."
Lim Dong-ok, vice chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Fatherland, and a North Korean civic representative accompanied Kim Ki-nam, along with Chung, informs The Korea Times.