The leaders of North and South Korea will work out their final joint statement on the question of denuclearization at the summit itself rather than hammering it out in advance.
Officials from the two sides have been preparing a joint statement to be announced after their summit on Friday, but the part about denuclearization has been left out.
A senior Cheong Wa Dae official said Tuesday, "Most of the terms will be agreed beforehand, but some will be decided by reflecting the results of the summit."
North and South Korea have prepared an agreement on two of the three main agenda items, which are the establishment of a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War and improving cross-border relations. But they failed to narrow their differences over the scrapping of North Korea's nuclear weapons.
"A large portion of the agreement should be negotiated by the leaders themselves during the summit," a senior government official told reporters Tuesday.
This is relatively rare in international summit diplomacy, which is mostly for show while the details have already been worked out behind the scenes and leaders sit around aimlessly exchanging pleasantries.
"North Korea has always been reluctant to discuss sensitive issues during working-level talks, saying such matters should be discussed at higher levels," the official added.
The summit starts on Friday morning with a group meeting followed by a one-on-one summit and dinner. President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will talk face-to-face for about three hours.
Moon has already claimed the North is willing to denuclearize "completely," but no direct comments from Kim have been reported.
The two leaders have also set up a hotline that could come in handy if they fail to reach agreement on Friday. But a high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae official said, "A phone call between the two leaders would be mainly symbolic, so is it really necessary?"
Asked whether there will have to be any follow-up visit by a South Korean envoy to the North, the official said, "Overall plans for the summit are going ahead without a hitch, so we need to wait and see if another high-level meeting is needed or we have to fine-tune some issues through other forms of contact."
Vehicles take officials to Panmunjom in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. /Newsis