SEOUL—The leaders of North and South Korea signed a declaration on Friday agreeing to work for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.
At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula.
The declaration included promises to pursue military arms reduction, cease “hostile acts,” turn their fortified border into a “peace zone,” and seek multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States.
The leaders of the two Koreas began their historic meeting with a handshake at the heavily fortified military demarcation line at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
South Korea’s Moon Jae-in greeted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ and was invited by Kim to step into North Korea, which Moon accepted with a smile, reported Yonhap. Both leaders then stepped into South Korea, making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Friday’s summit sets the stage for Kim to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what would be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries.
Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.
Moon was also seen leaving the presidential office in a bulletproof sedan. He stopped briefly to greet dozens of summit supporters waving South Korean flags near the Blue House.
Scepticism has been rampant about whether Kim is ready to abandon the hard-earned nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against U.S. invasion from the south.
Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
On Thursday, Trump said he was considering three or four dates as well as five locations for his meeting with Kim, although once again he added that it remained unclear whether the meeting will occur.
“It could be that I walk out quickly — with respect — but … it could be that maybe the meeting doesn’t even take place,” he told Fox News by telephone. “Who knows. But I can tell you right now they want to meet.”
The White House released two photographs of then Secretary of State-designate and CIA chief Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Kim in North Korea over the Easter weekend to discuss the planned summit. It was Kim’s first known meeting with a U.S. official.
Great to have Secretary Pompeo confirmed. He will do an excellent job helping @POTUS lead our efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (photos from previously confirmed Easter weekend trip) pic.twitter.com/o4RNDKVmah
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) April 26, 2018
The latest summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarized Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.
For the first time, key moments such as Kim crossing the border into the South, the two leaders shaking hands and walking to the Peace House for their talks, were broadcasted live.
By Christine Kim and Josh Smith