The significance of the move, however, is still unclear.
"The real stumbling block is whether North Korea will show willingness to give up its nuclear weapons," says Kim Tae-woo, deputy head of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a Seoul-based think tank. "If not, this does not mean any real progress."
South Korea's Yonhap news agency Tuesday quoted an unnamed South Korean official as saying intelligence reports suggested that the North has almost completely restored the nuclear facilities it had begun to dismantle under an earlier agreement.
Negotiating about negotiations
That would mean Pyongyang would give up its nuclear program – it has already tested two nuclear devices – in return for international diplomatic recognition, large sums of economic aid, a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, and guarantees of its security.
Repeated efforts to move toward such a solution have been thwarted by bickering and mutual recrimination over unmet promises.