News ID: 214034
Published: 1230 GMT April 27, 2018

North, South Korea seek peace, denuclearization in historic summit

North, South Korea seek peace, denuclearization in historic summit
REUTERS

The leaders of North and South Korea agreed to pursue a permanent peace treaty and the complete denuclearization of their divided peninsula at a historic summit Friday laden with symbolism.

The North's leader Kim Jong-un and the South's President Moon Jae-in embraced after signing what they called the Panmunjom Declaration, following a day that began with an emotional handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that splits their countries, AFP wrote.

The pair issued a statement confirming their "common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula". They agreed they would this year seek a permanent end to the Korean War, 65 years after hostilities ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

Moon would visit Pyongyang in "the fall", the two leaders said, also pledging to hold "regular meetings and direct telephone conversations".

In coming weeks Kim is due to hold a much-anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump – who has demanded Pyongyang give up its weapons – that will be crucial in shaping progress. Trump hailed the Korea summit as historic but warned "only time will tell".

He implicitly claimed credit for the meeting, tweeting: "KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!"

Kim and Trump had traded personal insults and threats of war, sending tensions soaring before Moon seized on the Winter Olympics to try to broker dialogue, beginning a dizzying whirl of diplomacy that led to Friday's meeting in the Demilitarized Zone.

 

'Heart-wrenching division'

Kim said he was "filled with emotion" after stepping over the concrete blocks that mark the border, making him the first Northern leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ceasefire in 1953.

At his impromptu invitation, the two men briefly crossed hand-in-hand into the North before beginning the summit, only the third of its kind.

The truce village of Panmunjom was the "symbol of heart-wrenching division", Kim said afterwards, but if it became "a symbol of peace, the North and South that have one blood, one language, one history and one culture, will return to becoming one".

He pledged the two Koreas would ensure they did not "repeat the unfortunate history in which past inter-Korea agreements... fizzled out after beginning".

In the declaration, the two sides said they would seek meetings this year with the US and possibly China – both of them parties to the 1953 cease-fire – "with a view to declaring an end to the war, turning the armistice into a peace treaty, and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime".

Moon welcomed the North's announcement of a moratorium on nuclear testing and long-range missile launches as "very significant", calling it "an important step toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Pyongyang has always insisted it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against a US invasion, and its past references to denuclearization of the "Korean peninsula" have been code for the removal of US troops from the South and the end of its nuclear umbrella over its security ally – prospects unthinkable in Washington.

The North is demanding still unspecified security guarantees to discuss its arsenal, while Washington is pressing it to give up its weapons in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.

Before signing the declaration, Moon and Kim held a symbolic tree planting ceremony near the demarcation line.

It was a far cry from the last time the South Korean leader was on duty for a tree-related event in the DMZ, in 1976, when he had a supporting role in a monumental US and South Korean show of force after Northern soldiers killed two US officers trying to prune a poplar.

After the planting, Kim and Moon spoke alone for more than half an hour in an open-air tete-a-tete, the younger North Korean leader nodding and listening attentively to the former special forces soldier – who has long advocated dialogue.

 

 

   
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