Kim and Moon discussed denuclearisation and permanent peace on peninsula: Presidential office

Reuters Delhi, India Apr 27, 2018, 07.57 AM(IST)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into South Korea for the first time on Friday (April 27), where he was greeted by the South's president, Moon Jae-in ahead of the two Koreas' first summit in more than a decade. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The meeting, aimed at ending their decades-long conflict and easing tensions over the North's nuclear weapons programme, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South`s President Moon Jae-in discussed denuclearisation and a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula at their summit Friday, Moon`s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.

"The two leaders had a sincere and frank dialogue over the denuclearisation and the establishment of permanent peace of the Korean peninsula and development of inter-Korea ties,"  Young-chan added.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in wrapped up the first round of talks on Friday for their countries' first summit in over a decade, the South's presidential office said.

Kim and Moon will meet later in the afternoon after they have lunch separately. Kim returned to the North in a black limousine with bodyguards surrounding the vehicle as it made its way across the border.

The meet aimed at ending their decades-long conflict and easing tensions over the North's nuclear weapons programme, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump.

Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line, making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

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

The two were handed flowers by a South Korean boy and girl, residents of a village situated in the demilitarised zone.

Walking on a red carpet rolled out for the two heads of state, the pair were met by a South Korean honour guard in historical costumes and playing traditional music.

Kim wore glasses and his trademark black Mao suit, while the rest of the North Korean delegation appeared in military uniforms or Western attire.

Kim stopped to sign a guest book in the South's Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.

"A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history," Kim wrote in Korean in the book, dating and signing the entry.

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Earlier Friday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Kim would "open-heartedly discuss with Moon Jae-in all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula."

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 travelled to the meeting in a large motorcade, stopping briefly to greet dozens of summit supporters waving South Korean flags near the Blue House.

Hundreds of demonstrators were seen gathering in downtown Seoul from early morning to protest or support the summit.

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 US invasion.

The two neighbours expect to release a joint statement late on Friday - possibly called the Panmunjom Declaration - that could address denuclearisation and peace, and an improvement in relations, South Korean officials said.

Unending hostilities

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.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.

Kim and Trump are expected to meet in late May or June, with Trump saying on Thursday he was considering several possible dates and venues.

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 US official.

The photos show Kim and Pompeo, who was confirmed as secretary of state on Thursday, shaking hands. In one they faced each other looking serious in the other they both appeared to wear faint smiles.

The latest summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised 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 broadcast live.

Besides capturing the two leaders' candid interactions, the live feed broadcast a few hiccups, including when a key photo op blocked was blocked by a photographer's backside.