Korea leaders commit to denuclearization in historic summit

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, right, talks with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in at a bench on a bridge next to the military demarcation line at the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP
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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, left and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in hug during a signing ceremony near the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP)
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center left, pose for the media during a meeting at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone on Friday, April 27. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries ahead of their meeting at the official summit Peace House building at the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool / AFP)
Updated 27 April 2018
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Korea leaders commit to denuclearization in historic summit

  • The so-called Panmunjom Declaration capped an extraordinary day unthinkable only months ago, as the nuclear-armed North carried out a series of missile launches and its sixth atomic blast
  • The White House said it hoped the summit would “achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula”

GOYANG, South Korea: The leaders of North and South Korea agreed Friday to pursue a permanent peace and the complete denuclearization of the divided peninsula, as they embraced after a historic summit laden with symbolism.

In a day of bonhomie including a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two countries, the pair issued a declaration on “the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.”

Upon signing the document, the two leaders shared a warm embrace, the culmination of a summit filled with smiles and displays of friendship in front of the world’s media.

They also agreed that they would this year seek a permanent end to the Korean War, 65 years after the hostilities ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

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

The so-called Panmunjom Declaration capped an extraordinary day unthinkable only months ago, as the nuclear-armed North carried out a series of missile launches and its sixth atomic blast.

Kim said he was “filled with emotion” after stepping over the concrete blocks into the South, making him the first North Korean leader to set foot there since the shooting stopped in the Korean War.

At Kim’s impromptu invitation the two men briefly crossed hand-in-hand into the North before walking to the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom for the summit — only the third of its kind since hostilities ceased in 1953.

“I came here determined to send a starting signal at the threshold of a new history,” said Kim.

After the summit, he pledged that the two Koreas will ensure they did not “repeat the unfortunate history in which past inter-Korea agreements... fizzled out after beginning.”

The two previous Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, both of them in Pyongyang, also ended with displays of affection and similar pledges, but the agreements ultimately came to naught.

With the North’s atomic arsenal high on the agenda, South Korean President Moon Jae-in responded that the North’s announced moratorium on nuclear testing and long-range missile launches was “very significant.”

It was the highest-level encounter yet in a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy and intended to pave the way for a much-anticipated encounter between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

 

 Last year Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear blast, by far its most powerful to date, and launched missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.

Its actions sent tensions soaring as Kim and Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.

Moon seized on the South’s Winter Olympics as an opportunity to broker dialogue between them and has said his meeting with Kim will serve to set up the summit between Pyongyang and Washington.

The White House said it hoped the summit would “achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.”

After the historic meeting between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, President Donald Trump tweeted "KOREAN WAR TO END".

Trump has demanded the North give up its weapons, and Washington is pressing for it to do so in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.

Seoul had played down expectations before the summit, saying the North’s technological advances in its nuclear and missile programs made the summit “all the more difficult.”

Pyongyang is demanding as yet unspecified security guarantees to discuss its arsenal.

When Kim visited the North’s key backer Beijing last month in only his first foreign trip as leader, China’s state media cited him as saying that the issue could be resolved, as long as Seoul and Washington take “progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace.”

In the past, North Korean support for denuclearization of the “Korean peninsula” has 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.

Moon said he hoped they would have further meetings on both sides of the border, and Kim offered to visit Seoul “any time” he was invited.

After a morning session lasting an hour and 40 minutes, Kim crossed back to the North for lunch, a dozen security guards jogging alongside his limousine.

Before the afternoon session, Moon and Kim held a symbolic tree planting ceremony on the demarcation line.

The soil came from Mount Paektu, on the North’s border with China, and Mount Halla, on the South’s southern island of Jeju.

After signing the agreement, the leaders and their wives attended a banquet before Kim was to return to the North.

Decoder

Trump praises historic inter-Korea summit

US President Donald Trump on Friday praised the meeting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, acknowledging the historic summit even as he cast doubt over how long positive diplomacy may last. “After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.


Pyongyang hits Pence ‘stupid’ remarks, threatens to quit summit

Updated 7 min 16 sec ago
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Pyongyang hits Pence ‘stupid’ remarks, threatens to quit summit

TOKYO: North Korea has renewed its threat to pull out of a summit next month with President Donald Trump, saying it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.
Pyongyang’s latest salvo follows recent comments by US Vice President Mike Pence suggesting the North may end up like Libya if it doesn’t move forward with denuclearization.
Choe Son Hui, the vice minister of foreign affairs, was quoted Thursday by the North’s state-run news agency slamming as “ignorant” and “stupid” comments Pence made in an interview with Fox News that compared North Korea to Libya, saying they showed he does not understand North Korea’s situation.
She also questioned whether the summit, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, would be worthwhile if the remarks reflect Washington’s position.
“We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” KCNA quoted her as saying. “Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”
The summit plan has hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides have begun taking tougher positions and trading barbs. Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed. But the US says it is still working on making it happen.
Choe, a veteran diplomat and former head of the North America desk at the Foreign Ministry, was responding to comments Pence made to Fox News this week that it would be a “mistake” for the North Koreans to think they can “play” Trump. Pence said both the Clinton and Bush administrations had been “played” by the North Korean government.
“We offered concessions to the North Korean regime in exchange for promises to end their nuclear weapons program, only to see them break those promises and abandon them,” he said, adding that if Pyongyang does not go along with talks to give up its nuclear weapons, Washington could return to the “Libya model.”
That suggestion, which was made earlier this month by National Security Adviser John Bolton and also sparked an outraged response from the North, is especially inflammatory to Pyongyang.
The Libya model refers to negotiations in 2004 that led to the shipping of nuclear components to the US from Libya under Muammar Qaddafi. But in Pyongyang’s mind the most important part of the story is what came after that. Qaddafi was deposed after a 42-year reign and killed in 2011 — the year Kim assumed power in North Korea — while his country spiraled into chaos.
“In view of the remarks of the US high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us,” she said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.
She added: “To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.”
How seriously the North would really consider calling off the summit isn’t entirely clear, however.
Meeting with Trump as an equal on the world stage would be an important moment for Kim and Choe couched her statement carefully, noting that she would only recommend the North Korean leader withdraw from the meeting if Washington “clings to unlawful and outrageous acts.”
North Korea was also expected to go through with a major gesture of goodwill ahead of the summit by dismantling its nuclear test site. The North, which has vowed to stop all underground nuclear testing and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, has invited foreign media to the remote site to observe a ceremony to mark the closing.
The ceremony was expected to be held Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather.