South Korea stops border propaganda broadcasts ahead of key summit with North | News | DW | 23.04.2018
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South Korea stops border propaganda broadcasts ahead of key summit with North

Leaders from the North and South are due to meet on Friday for the first time in a decade. The two countries have made moves in recent weeks to thaw relations ahead of the highly anticipated summit.

At midnight local time, the sound of propaganda and pop music from the South Korean side of the border stopped. 

South Korea's defense ministry announced the decision to switch off the loudspeakers' output of news, music and criticism of the North for the first time in two years, hoping it: "Will lead both Koreas to stop mutual criticism and propaganda against each other and also contribute in creating peace and a new beginning."

At the weekend, the North announced it had no further need for nuclear tests, its test site or intercontinental missile launches. However, no mention was made of its stored nuclear materials and equipment.

The timing of the announcement, just days before the first meeting between the two sides in a decade was "a green light that improves the prospect of success of the inter-Korea and North-US summits," South Korea's Jae-in said on Monday.

Hopes for denuclearization

The meeting between the two Koreas on Friday is the first in a decade. Preparatory working-group meetings continued on Monday as the two sides set the schedule for the summit to be held at the border village of Panmunjom. The third-ever talks between leaders from the North and South are to include a welcoming ceremony, a formal meeting and a banquet dinner. A joint rehearsal of the summit is to be held on Wednesday.

Moon Jae-in said on Monday that Pyongyang's announcement on its nuclear tests was "a significant decision towards total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

"If the North takes a step towards denuclearization, starting from nuclear moratorium, it could guarantee a bright future," Moon added. It "raises hopes that the pace will accelerate."

US President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Kim in the near future. His latest comments, on Sunday, were more moderate: "We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won't," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Only time will tell."

China's pressure on North Korea

China has been putting its own pressure on North Korea to limit its nuclear program. Figures issued on Monday showed in the first three months of the year, imports from North Korea had dropped 87 percent while exports fell 46 percent. China is North Korea's main political and economic partner.

The official English-language newspaper of the Chinese government commented on the upcoming talks: "Negotiations about actual nuclear disarmament will likely prove arduous given such weapons are critical to Pyongyang's sense of security," The China Daily noted on Monday. "It will require ironclad security guarantees if it is to relinquish them."

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jm/kms (Reuters, AP)

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