Kim Jong Un pledges ‘no more war,’ denuclearization at historic summit
SEOUL. – The leaders of North and South Korea signed a historic declaration Friday pledging “no more war” and a common goal of “complete denuclearisation” on the Korean Peninsula.
The countries, which technically remain in a state of war, heralded the deal as part of “a new era of peace” after a historic summit.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also vowed to “cease all hostile acts” and to “transform the Demilitarized Zone into a peace zone.”
The two leaders embraced, and Moon said he would visit Pyongyang in the fall.
The summit laid the foundation for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump, amid concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program. Kim has repeatedly threatened to destroy both the US and South Korea.
Trump gave the deal a cautious welcome, tweeting that “time will tell” if it leads to an end to nuclear missile tests. “The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place,” he added.
Earlier, Kim and Moon briefly crossed into each other’s countries before a meeting that appeared to mark a turning point in one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.
Kim stepped across a low concrete military demarcation line separating the rival nations and greeted Moon with smiles and handshakes. As cameras clicked, he took Moon by the hand and invited him to briefly step back into North Korea.
Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in cross the military demarcation line at Panmunjom on Friday. – AP
“We have a chance to heal the wounds,” Kim told Moon as they sat down for talks at the border truce village of Panmunjom on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.
Kim then wrote a promise in a ceremonial book: “A new history begins now.”
After breaking off for lunch, the leaders met again to plant a commemorative pine tree and strolled together through the village without aides.
Kim made an unconventional attempt to break the ice with a comment about his recent missile tests, according to a briefing to reporters by Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young Chan.
Kim said to Moon with a smile: “I was told that you used to be unable to get a good night’s sleep, being awakened … to attend the National Security Council meetings because of us.”
The North Korean leader added: “I’ll make sure that you can sleep soundly.”
In the first meeting between North and South leaders in a decade, Kim also said that he looks forward to “making the most of this opportunity so that we have the chance to heal the wounds between the North and the South. Let’s meet more often from now on.”
He added: “Let’s meet people’s expectations to make a better world. I promise we will do well in the future.”
According to Yoon, Kim also told Moon: “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation as well as to work shoulder to shoulder with you to tackle the obstacles between us. I came to with the confidence that a brighter future awaits us.”
Before the declaration was signed, China applauded the leaders for taking a “historic step” toward peace. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that China hopes for “new journey of long-term peace and stability on the peninsula.”
With North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme having reached what American policymakers describe as a critical stage, expectations are high that Friday’s talks will lay the foundation for reduced tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
The proposed meeting between Kim and Trump would be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. It is not clear when it would take place, although American officials have said it could be from late May to mid-June. Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden and Mongolia have all been cited as possible venues.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the U.S. “looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”
Meetings between leaders of the two Koreas have occurred in the past, in 2000 and 2007, but in each of those instances the South Korean president traveled to Pyongyang.
Friday’s summit comes after last week’s news that Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, recently held one-on-one talks with the reclusive strongman. The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Pompeo on Thursday. – NBC News