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SEOUL－Seoul stopped calling Pyongyang an "enemy" in its biennial defense document published on Tuesday, an apparent effort to continue reconciliation with its neighbor.
The development came as leaders of the United States and the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea are looking to set up their second summit to defuse an international standoff over the DPRK"s nuclear program.
Republic of Korea"s Defense Ministry white paper published and posted on its website doesn"t include typical terms labeling DPRK its "enemy", "present enemy" or "main enemy".
Instead of the deletion, the white paper, which has been published biennially since 1967, said Seoul"s military regards forces threatening and infringing upon the country"s sovereignty, territory, people and assets as an enemy.
DPRK"s state media hasn"t immediately responded.
Under tension-easing agreements reached after ROK President Moon Jae-in"s summit with DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un in September, the two countries demolished some of their front-line guard posts, established buffer zones along their frontier and demilitarized their shared border village.
Kim also met with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, agreeing to complete denuclearization of the peninsula and normalized relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
The white paper said those summit meetings created a new security environment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and build peace.
Prospects for a second US-DPRK summit have been boosted after Kim traveled to China last week in what experts say was a trip aimed at coordinating positions ahead of talks with Trump.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday that the US and the DPRK plan to hold high-level talks in Washington this week to discuss a second summit of their leaders, following a prolonged stalemate in nuclear talks
The meeting, led by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior DPRK official Kim Yong-chol, would happen on Thursday or Friday, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed diplomatic source familiar with the talks.
Both sides are expected to finalize the date and location of a second summit between Trump and Kim, and the DPRK"s envoy is likely to meet Trump, the paper said.
A likely meeting
There was no immediate comment from the White House. Asked about the report, a US State Department official said: "We don"t have any meetings to announce."
If confirmed, this week"s meeting could mean the two sides are nearing a compromise after a monthslong standoff over how to move forward in ending DPRK"s nuclear and missile programs.
Meanwhile, Choe Son-hui, a DPRK vice-minister of foreign affairs, was traveling to Sweden on Tuesday.
"I am going to an international conference in Sweden," Yonhap News Agency quoted her as saying.
Pompeo, who made several trips to Pyongyang last year, sought to meet his counterpart last November, but the talks were called off at the last minute.
Contact was resumed after Kim"s New Year"s speech, in which he said he was willing to meet Trump "at any time", ROK"s ambassador to the United States, Cho Yoon-je, told reporters last week.
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