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Korean leaders end summit with nuclear pledge

April 27, 2018

After a historic summit, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in have committed to achieving "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula." The two plan to meet again in May to further discuss reducing tensions.

The South Korean president and the North Korean leader shake hands after delivering a joint statement at the summit
Image: Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed his country's militarized border with South Korea on Friday for the first inter-Korean summit in more than 10 years.

Following two meetings between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the North and South released a joint statement that the North had agreed to work towards ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons, with a long-term goal of "declaring an end to the Korean War."

Read more: North and South Korea: how different are they?

What the leaders said after the meeting

  • Moon said: "The joint call is to agree to have the Korean Peninsula without any nuclear arsenal — complete denuclearization. This is the start for going forward for the denuclearization of the peninsula."
  • "This is a turning point for the new world order and, whether it's the sky, sea or the land, the hostilities will be stopped."
  • "We will work together, Mr. Kim and I, having faith in each other … and through the hotline we will speak quite often and we will not go back."
  • Kim said: "There is no reason why we should fight each other — we are one nation."
  • The Koreas will work together to ensure they do not "repeat the unfortunate history in which past inter-Korean agreements ... fizzled out after beginning." 
  • "There may be backlash, hardship and frustration on our way, but a victory cannot be achieved without pain."

Read more: Opinion: Hand in hand into no man's land

Kim and Moon walking hand-in-hand
Kim and Moon walked hand-in-hand from North Korea into the South Image: Reuters/Korea Summit Press

'Very positive news'

Following the summit, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter, declaring "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!" he wrote.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan welcomed the summit between the leaders of North and South Korea as a positive step and that he expected Pyongyang to take concrete steps towards acting on its promises.

Japan would stay in close contact with the United States and South Korea over the topic of North Korea, Abe said, adding that Japan was "absolutely not" being left out of the denuclearization process.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in face each other during a tree-planting ceremony
The leaders of the South and North planted a commemorative tree togetherImage: Reuters

Russia also praised the landmark summit as "very positive news," saying direct dialogue on the divided peninsula was promising.

"Today we see that this direct dialogue has taken place [and] it has certain prospects," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg hailed the meeting, saying it was "encouraging," but warned that more challenges lay ahead. "This is a first step, it is encouraging, but we have to realize there is still a lot of hard work that lies ahead of us," Stoltenberg said.

Read more: Opinion: A big stage for the 'little rocket man'

Where did the Korean summit take place?

The summit was held in the inter-Korean Peace House in the south section of the Joint Security Area (JSA) between North and South Korea. The JSA, also known as the Truce Village of Panmunjom, is where all meetings between North Korea and the United Nations Command or South Korea have taken place since 1953.

Read moreSouth Korea's border residents pin hopes on upcoming summit

Why was this summit historic?

Kim is the first North Korean leader to cross to the southern side of the JSA since fighting in the Korean War ended in 1953. North and South Korean leaders have met just three previous times in the demilitarized zone. The last meeting occurred in 2007, when the late Kim Jong Il, who was North Korea's leader from 1994 until his death in 2011, met with the then-South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong at the inter-Korean summit
Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, took a prominent place at the negotiating tableImage: Korea Summit

What did they discuss?

The denuclearization of North Korea was at the top of the agenda and the North has now agreed to denuclearize. The North has conducted several weapons tests, including one involving a hydrogen bomb, since Kim assumed power in 2011. The North Korean leader announced last week that the country will suspend nuclear tests and missile tests indefinitely.

Read moreSouth Korean makes 'Pizzas for the People' of North Korea

What happens next?

A second meeting between the Koreas is planned for May, where they will hold military talks to further discuss reducing tensions. The Korean summit was a precursor to a meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump, which could take place in late May or early June. The Trump administration has applied a "maximum pressure" approach to North Korea and is credited with getting Kim to come to the table.

law, rs/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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