North Korea is set to end a bitter 68-year war with the South, after leader Kim Jong-un took steps to repair relations with other nations this year.

The two countries are making plans to announce an official end to the military conflict ahead of a rare summit next week, according to South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo newspaper.

Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in may have an initial phone call on Friday to discuss releasing a possible joint statement after the meeting on April 27, according to Moon's chief of staff Im Jong-seok.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet Kim on April 27 in the third-ever meeting between the Koreas. Photo / AP
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet Kim on April 27 in the third-ever meeting between the Koreas. Photo / AP

"We expect the summit will confirm [North Korea's] denuclearisation will," said Im.

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The move could pave the way for the mooted historic summit between Donald Trump and North Korea's Supreme Leader.

Kim has put his nuclear weapons programme up for negotiation in the hope of obtaining a boost to the Hermit Kingdom's economy and building up trust among his people, according to a South Korean government adviser.

The North Korean leader agreed to meet his South Korean counterpart in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) in what will be the Koreas' third-ever summit after special envoys from Moon Jae-in visited Pyongyang last month.

He also said he was open to holding "candid" talks with the US about thedenuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and said he has no reason to possess nuclear weapons if he has a guarantee he doesn't face external military threats.

That led to Trump agreeing to a potential summit, which the Korean Central News Agency says is likely to take place in late May or June.

Workers plant flowers in the shape of the Korean Peninsula on the lawn to wish for a successful inter-Korean summit at Seoul Plaza in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / AP
Workers plant flowers in the shape of the Korean Peninsula on the lawn to wish for a successful inter-Korean summit at Seoul Plaza in Seoul, South Korea. Photo / AP

Moon Chung-in, adviser to Moon Jae-in, said Kim "cannot survive if he fails to win the hearts and minds of his own people."

He rarely leaves North Korea, but recently took the unusual steps of visiting Beijing, even taking his reclusive wife Ri Sol-ju with him on the unofficial trip to China, where he met with president Xi Jinping.

The rogue state has been testing deadly weapons in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions, staging displays of power and claiming to be close to developing nuclear missiles capable of reaching the US mainland. But it appears it may be ready to soften its stance.

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Moon Chung-in said it was likely that Kim believed his rapid progress in nuclear and missile programmes would force the United States to the negotiating table.

"North Korea might have thought the US won't begin a dialogue if it had incomplete nuclear and missile capabilities. So the North could have thought it should demonstrate an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capability to get the US to feel a threat and come to talks," he said.

Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce rather than a peace treaty. Since the armistice, US-backed South Korean soldiers have lined up against more than a million North Korean troops along one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

US President Donald Trump, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met at his Florida resort. Photo / AP
US President Donald Trump, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met at his Florida resort. Photo / AP

The Hermit State has artillery pointed at Seoul, while the South hosts US forces and both sides have submarines and warships patrolling nearby coastlines. Over the years, the stand-off has occasionally erupted into violence, with hundreds killed, although it has not turned into outright war.

The solution may involve returning the 4km DMZ between the two nations to ordinary territory, with each country reclaiming two kilometres.

But the path to peace could be as fraught with difficulty as the current tensions, with the North only likely to be willing to take partial steps towards denuclearisation.

The rogue state has also demanded the withdrawal of the 28,500 US troops in South Korea and a halt to yearly US-South Korean military exercises.

Since Kim, thought to be 34, took over from his father Kim Jong-il in 2011, North Korea's economy has slightly improved, but the repressive regime's finances could suffer after UN sanctions toughened following the North's nuclear and missile tests.

Kim has also drawn opprobrium for public executions and banishments designed to retain his grip on power.

Trump overnight welcomed Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to his Florida resort, with the White House saying the leaders would discuss trade as well as the President's upcoming summit with Kim.

— with AP