North's Kim sends condolences to Moon over mother's death

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a message of condolence to South Korean President Moon Jae-in over his mother's recent death, Moon's office said Thursday.

Kim's message was delivered via an inter-Korean border village on Wednesday. It was later in the day handed over to Moon, who was staying in the southeastern city of Busan where his mother's mourning station was located, Moon's spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said.

Ko said Kim expressed his "deep commemorating (of Moon's mother) and condolence" over her death. The spokeswoman didn't elaborate on whether Kim wrote anything else in the message or how Moon reacted.

Moon's mother, Kang Han-ok, died at 92 on Tuesday. She and Moon's late father were refugees from North Korea who fled to South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim's message came amid strained ties between the two Koreas amid a lack of progress in a U.S.-led effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons program.

It's unclear if or how Kim's condolence message would affect relations between the Koreas.

The two leaders met three times last year and struck a set of deals aimed at easing animosities and boosting exchanges. But in recent months, North Korea has drastically reduced its engagement and diplomatic activities with South Korea, after Seoul failed to resume stalled lucrative joint economic projects held back by U.S.-led U.N. sanctions.

Last week, Kim ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at a long-shuttered joint tourist project at a North Korean mountain. South Korea later proposed talks but North Korea has insisted they exchange documents to work out details on Kim's order.

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