The officials and experts meeting for the so-called 'track one.five' talks held their first official dinner Monday evening in Finland's capital Helsinki.
Starting Tuesday, the 18 representatives, six from each country, will have two days of closed-door discussions on various issues, including the terms and conditions for the North's denuclearization, and the upcoming inter-Korean summit and U.S.-North Korea summit.
The list of attendees includes South Korean security experts, Pyongyang's deputy director-general for North American affairs, Choe Kang-il, and the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens.
While preparations for the upcoming summit talks are underway, the New York Times, quoting several officials, reported that the the Central Intelligence Agency is taking a primary role in orchestrating the meeting, with the U.S. State Department having a rather diminished role.
Although outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will remain at his post until the end of the month, until C.I.A. director Mike Pompeo replaces him,.. the paper said the U.S. intelligence agency is already in charge of some back-channel communications between the U.S. and North Korea.
Meanwhile, South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha has been discussing the North Korean issue with top diplomats from the European Union.
Speaking at the EU Foreign Affairs Council's meeting in Brussels on Monday, Kang explained the situation on the Korean peninsula, asking for the EU's continued support and cooperation in establishing peace and stability in the region.
The South Korean foreign ministry said, the EU invited Kang to attend at the monthly meeting of foreign ministers of the EU countries, and it was the first time a South Korean foreign minister has attended the meeting.
Park Ji-won, Arirang News.