By Cynthia Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea on March 29 at the border truce village of Panmunjom to prepare for a summit of their leaders planned for April, the South said on Saturday.
A team of three officials will be led by Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of North Korea's committee for the peaceful reunification of the country, the North told its neighbor early on Saturday, the South's Unification Ministry said.
"This morning, North Korea sent a message through a communication channel in Panmunjom agreeing to our suggestion made on the 22nd to hold high-level inter-Korea talks," the ministry said in a statement.
The stakes are higher for a potential summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart that may take place by the end of May, however.
Trump this week named John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations famed for his hawkish views on Pyongyang, to replace White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13, saying the two had disagreed over Iran and other foreign policy matters.
The Korean talks set for March 29 will precede musical performances in Pyongyang in early April by a group of South Korean singers making a reciprocal visit after the North sent performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Artists of both nations will collaborate for a show on April 3, the South's Yonhap news agency said, citing an aide of President Moon Jae-in.
Moon plans to hold a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un by the end of April.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Richard Pullin and Clarence Fernandez)