Kim Jong Un welcomes South Korean envoys to dinner

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was hosting a dinner with South Korean envoys in Pyongyang on Monday — the first such meeting since he took power in 2011.

The meal comes amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations around the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

A spokesperson for South Korea’s presidential office, the Blue House, said Kim was scheduled to meet with the delegation from Seoul beginning at 6 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his chief of national security, Chung Eui-yong, as well as Suh Hoon, the director of the National Intelligence Service, to Pyongyang.

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 09: South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea reacts after a television report on an exit poll of the new president at the party's auditorium in the National assembly on May 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Polls have opened in South Korea's presidential election, called seven months early after former President Park Geun-hye was impeached for her involvement in a corruption scandal. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in (C) of the Democratic Party leaves after he watched screens showing the result of exit polls of the presidential election at a hall of the National Assembly in Seoul on May 9, 2017. The projected winner of South Korea's presidential election is a former special forces soldier, pro-democracy activist and human rights lawyer. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in (L) of the Democratic Party talks with his party leader Choo Mi-Ae (R) as they watch screens showing the result of exit polls of the presidential election at a hall of the National Assembly in Seoul on May 9, 2017. The projected winner of South Korea's presidential election is a former special forces soldier, pro-democracy activist and human rights lawyer. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 08: South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea, cheer during a presidential election campaign on May 8, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, left, and his wife Kim Jung-sook pose for a photograph after casting a ballot for the presidential election at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. South Koreans began voting Tuesday in a special election to replace ousted leader�Park Geun-hye, the culmination of months of political discord marked by the country's biggest street protests since the 1980s. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, greets attendees during a campaign rally at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, May 8, 2017. South Koreans are voting on May 9 in a special election to replace ousted leader�Park Geun-hye, the culmination of months of discord that saw the country's biggest street protests since the 1980s. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-In (C) of the Democratic Party poses during his election campaign in Goyang city, northwest of Seoul, on May 4, 2017. South Korea will hold a presidential election on May 9 to replace former President Park Geun-hye, who was ousted from office in March over a corruption and abuse-of-power scandal. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea prepares for a televised debate in Seoul on April 23, 2017. South Korea will hold a presidential election on May 9 to replace former President Park Geun-hye, who has been ousted from office on 10 March over a corruption and abuse-of-power scandal. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / KIM HONG-JI (Photo credit should read KIM HONG-JI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Before leaving Seoul, Chung said officials from both sides would discuss restarting dialogue between the neighbors as well as between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim last month sent high-level delegations to PyeongChang for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, become the first member of the ruling Kim family to visit the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953. She sat one row behind Vice President Mike Pence during the opening ceremony, but they didn’t speak.

The White House has suggested that it’s ready to talk with North Korea. Pyongyang responded over the weekend by saying that it’s interested in discussing issues of “mutual concern” with the U.S. but added that preconditions are a non-starter.

Chung's trip is the first known high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in about a decade.

Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he will relay to North Korea Moon's hopes for North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanant peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean delegation will leave Pyongyang Tuesday and head to Washington to debrief U.S. officials on the talks.

Moon is pushing for a summit during his first year in office, but the current thaw spurred on by his self-proclaimed “Peace Olympics” could be shortlived. South Korea and the U.S. still plan to hold annual military drills they agreed to delay during the Olympics.

In the past, North Korea has responded angrily to the joint drills, which it claims are preparations for an invasion. Another missile or nuclear test by Kim's regime could quickly derail the current talks and Moon's hopes for a summit.

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Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior research fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum, said there’s a very small window for the South to broker Washington-Pyongyang talks, assuming it's possible for that to "happen at all."

North Korea has not carried out any weapons tests since late November, when it fired its largest intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea has said in public statements that it wants an official end to the Korean War. The conflict was halted by a 1953 armistice but no peace treaty has been signed. It also wants nothing short of full normalization of relations with the U.S. and to be treated with respect and as an equal in the global arena. 

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