Trump Praises Talks Between North, South Korean Leaders, Welcomes End of War Promise

April 27, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

A cautiously optimistic President Donald Trump has commended talks between leaders of North and South Korea that resulted in a slew of promising announcements hinting at a thaw in relations between the two countries.

“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!” he said on Twitter on Friday, April 27.

In a historic move, the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, and the North’s communist dictator, Kim Jong Un, announced they would work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean War and seek an agreement on “permanent” and “solid” peace. Until then, the war will be still technically only on hold by an armistice.

“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the two stated.

Trump welcomed the announcement while highlighting the role of the United States in the process that led to it.

“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 on Friday.

The leaders of North and South Korea embraced on Friday after pledging to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” on a day of smiles and handshakes at the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

The declaration included promises to pursue phased arms reduction, to cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone, and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States.

Moon agreed to visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang this year, they said.

Earlier, Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in South Korea after shaking hands with his counterpart over a concrete curb marking the border in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone.

Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together marked a striking contrast to last year’s barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of war.

Their meeting comes weeks before Kim is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in what would be a historic first meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.

China, North Korea’s main ally, welcomed the leaders’ statement and said it was willing to keep playing a proactive role in promoting political solutions. Trump gave credit to Chinese leader Xi Jinping for helping to bring the North to the table.

“Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!”

Trump has put great emphasis on solving the growing threat on North Korea’s nuclear arms program and managed to mount unprecedented pressure on the communist dictatorship through intensifying sanctions and the credible threat of military action.

After North Korea’s bout of nuclear and missile tests last year peppered with threats and insults, to which Trump responded in kind, the North finally agreed, in January, to the first inter-Korean talks in more than two years.

“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, I want to show my gratitude,” Moon told reporters at his New Year’s news conference. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”

The North also agreed to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Part of the large delegation was Kim’s sister, who met with Moon and invited him to visit Pyongyang for a summit. Moon did not immediately agree and sent envoys instead. The envoys, in turn, delivered news that Kim is willing to discuss abandoning the nuclear weapons program.

That, in turn, opened the doors to talks with the United States, now planned for late May or early June, as Trump maintained a firm stance that the communist regime must agree to include abandoning its nuclear weapons program as part of any discussion.

Global markets were lifted by hopes for an end to conflict on the Korean peninsula. Shares in Seoul briefly rose more than 1 percent to a one-month high and Japan’s Nikkei share average also gained.

As part of efforts to reduce tension, the two sides agreed to open a liaison office, stop propaganda broadcasts and leaflet drops along the border, and allow Korean families divided by the border to meet.

Eyes on Trump Summit

Days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.

But there has been skepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the nuclear arsenal his country has developed for decades.

“Everything will not be resolved in the blink of an eye,” said Kim Young Hee, a North Korean defector-turned-economist at the Korea Development Bank.

“Kim Jong Un has put the ball in the U.S. court. He declared denuclearization, and promised to halt nuclear tests,” she said. “That tells us he wants the United States to guarantee the safety of his regime … in return for denuclearization.”

It is not the first time leaders of North and South Korea have declared hopes for peace. Two earlier summits, in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, failed to halt the North’s weapons program or improve relations in a lasting way.

“We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely, in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world, will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today,” Kim said after the agreement was signed.

Step Across the Line

Earlier, Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line where the men smiled and shook hands.

In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said, wearing his customary black Mao suit.

“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in a guest book in the South’s Peace House before talks began.

During a private meeting in the morning, Kim told Moon he came to the summit to end the history of conflict and joked he was sorry for waking Moon up with his early morning missile tests, a senior presidential official said.

Moon and Kim released their joint declaration before a dinner banquet.

Later, with their wives, they watched a music performance and held hands as they watched a montage of photos from their summit set to a K-pop song that included the words “be a family again.”

After farewells, Kim was driven back to North Korea.

The United States said earlier it was hopeful talks on peace and prosperity would make progress and it looked forward to discussions with South Korea in preparation for the planned meeting of Trump and Kim in coming weeks.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The war pitted the South, U.N., and U.S. forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.

Trump said on Thursday he was considering several dates and venues for the upcoming talks.

Epoch Times staff member Ivan Pentchoukov and Reuters contributed to this article.

 

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