North and South Korean leaders hold surprise talks at border | News | DW | 26.05.2018
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North and South Korean leaders hold surprise talks at border

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border in a surprise inter-Korean summit. The two reportedly discussed the possible summit with US President Donald Trump.

North and South Korea's leaders held a previously unannounced summit at the "truce village" in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between their two countries on Saturday, South Korea's presidency announced.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly met for two hours at the village in Panmunjom to share their views on the pending summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump. Trump pulled out of the summit this week in a letter to Kim, but said yesterday that it may still take place.

South Korea's Blue House, the president's office, said Moon would present the outcome of their meeting on Sunday.

"They exchanged views and discussed ways to implement the Panmunjom Declaration and to ensure a successful US-North Korea summit," the office said in a statement.

The Blue House also posted pictures of the meeting on Twitter, showing the two leaders embracing. Another picture showed Moon shaking hands with Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong.

Later, North Korea news agency KCNA reported that the two leaders had agreed to hold additional talks on June 1.

White House team to travel to Singapore

The Saturday meeting between Moon and Kim has revived hope that the US-North Korea summit could happen as previously planned.

A White House team was reportedly heading to Singapore to prepare for a possible meeting between Trump and Kim.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the team will be led by Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations.

In a tweet, Trump said the summit was "likely" to happen on June 12.

"We're talking to them now," Trump said of the North Koreans. "They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it."

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged all sides involved in the Korean conflict to show restraint.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who held talks with Putin in Moscow, said it was vital for Pyongyang to completely denuclearize.

Back-and-forth over summit

Saturday's meeting was the second time Kim and Moon came together in the past month following their first, historic summit on April 27 in the DMZ. Then, the two leaders made a broad declaration to improve ties and implement peace.

Relations between the two Koreas cooled in recent weeks, with Pyongyang canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea's participation in military exercises with the United States.

South Korea, which has been brokering talks between the US and North Korea, was surprised by Trump's decision to call off the summit with Kim. In his letter, Trump cited hostility in North Korean rhetoric as a reason for calling it off.

Read moreNorth Korea blows up tunnels at nuclear test site

The German government made an appeal to the international community on Friday, saying that Trump's decision to pull out of the summit underscores the importance of maintaining pressure on North Korea's leadership. 

Germany's deputy government spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said Berlin continued to support "the complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization" of North Korea. She also noted that high-level talks are an important step towards a de-escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Should the highly-anticipated meeting between Trump and Kim occur, it is expected to take place on June 12 in Singapore. 

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rs, shs/ng (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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