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 joint goal is to agree to have a Korean Peninsula without any nuclear arsenal,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a joint news conference in Panmunjeom, the border truce village
North and South Korea say they will jointly push for talks with the United States and also potentially China to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped in an armistice and left the Koreas still technically at war.
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 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 declaration said.
There was no mention of specific steps toward disarmament. North Korea has previously said it is contingent upon the removal of American troops, nearly 30,000 in number, stationed in South Korea.
The statement comes just hours after Kim Jong-un became the first of North Korea’s leaders, which included his father and grandfather, to cross into South Korea.
“When we met each other, we realized — we cannot be separated,” said Kim. “We are one nation and that’s how I felt. We are living next door to each other, there’s no reason we should fight each other.”
The two countries have agreed to hold high-level military talks in May to reduce tensions, with South Korea President Moon Jae-in scheduled to visit the North sometime in the autumn. The leaders were also said to pledge to maintain contact through a newly established hotline between the countries.
Propaganda broadcasts that the countries have been blaring at each other across their heavily-armed border will cease next week, they said, with the broadcasting equipment to be dismantled.
The sides also agreed to hold family reunions in August of those separated by the war, and to set up a permanent communications office.
There has been widespread skepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades, with a flurry of missile tests conducted within the last two years.
“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.
Two previous summits between leaders of the Koreas had been held, in 2000 and 2007. Both were in Pyongyang, North Korea.
In China, which has been a patron of North Korea, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a briefing Friday that Beijing wishes that the meeting between Kim and Moon will achieve a “positive result.”
Sanctions must remain: NATO
Although U.S. President Donald Trump has given his “blessing” for the Koreas to discuss an end to the war, there can be no real solution without the involvement of Washington and other parties that fought in the war because South Korea wasn’t a direct signatory to the armistice that stopped the fighting.
Trump was cautiously optimistic in a customary early morning tweet.
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!
Japan, which saw some of the North’s missile tests fall into the Sea of Japan, welcomed the outcome of the summit.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the talks Friday as a “forward-looking move.” He told reporters in Tokyo that he expects North Korea to take concrete actions toward denuclearization through its planned talks with the U.S.
Kim is scheduled to meet with Trump in late May or June. The North Korean dictator recently met with Mike Pompeo, now confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State, in a meeting that was not publicly revealed until several days after it had occurred.
Boris Johnson, British secretary of state for foreign affairs, and NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg both hailed the meeting but were quick to point out that international sanctions against North Korea must remain in place until it curbs its nuclear ambitions.
Stoltenberg also underlined that “there is a long way to go before we see a full resolution to the crisis.”