Leaders of two Koreas vow efforts to make 'good progress' at summit

Friday, 2018-04-27 14:20:26
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RoK President Moon Jae-in (R) and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un shake hands after Kim crossed the inter-Korean border at the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018, for a meeting with Moon that will mark the third inter-Korean summit. (Photo:Yonhap)
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The Republic of Korea (RoK) President Moon Jae-in and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong-un vowed sincere efforts to make progress at their bilateral summit Friday (April 27) in the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom, which Moon said now symbolizes peace, instead of division.

The historic summit began after the leaders met for the first time at the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone.

"It is good to see you," Kim said to Moon, waiting just south of the MDL for their first-ever encounter that was quickly followed by a handshake.

"I cannot stop my excitement as we meet here at such a historical place. Also, it is very moving that you, Mr. President, have come to Panmunjom, the demarcation line, to greet me," the DPRK leader said.

Moon also sounded upbeat, saying they were facing a "historic moment."

Kim surprised many by inviting Moon to briefly cross the inter-Korean border to the DPRK side, which officials from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae later said was not prearranged.

The leaders' official talks began at 10:15 a.m., about 45 minutes after the DPRK leader crossed the MDL, becoming the first DPRK’s leader to do so at least since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The talks ended shortly before noon after what Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan described as very friendly and candid discussions.

The leaders jointly inspected a RoK’s honor guard shortly after Kim crossed the inter-Korean border.

Moon told Kim that the latter could have been given a much better and more grand ceremony had he visited Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, according to Yoon.

Kim said he would visit Cheong Wa Dae at any time if Moon invited him, the Cheong Wa Dae official told a press briefing.

When the leaders opened their official talks at 10:15 a.m., about 15 minutes off their original schedule, Kim was the first to speak.

"I say this before President Moon and many journalists here that I will hold good discussions with President Moon with a frank, sincere and honest attitude and make a good outcome," he said at the start of the meeting, televised live.

Moon expressed his gratitude to Kim for agreeing to hold the summit.

"The moment Chairman Kim crossed the Military Demarcation Line, Panmunjom became a symbol of peace, not a symbol of division," he said, referring to Kim by his official title as the head of DPRK's state affairs commission.

"I wish to again express my respect to Chairman Kim Jong-un's decision that made today's discussions possible," he added.

The Moon-Kim meeting came amid thawing ties this year that followed the height of tension between the divided Koreas, which technically remain at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

DPRK staged nearly a dozen missile tests since Moon took office in May 2017, while also conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September.

RoK President Moon Jae-in (2nd from L) and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un (second from R) hold their first bilateral summit at the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. (Photo:Yonhap)

Friday's summit marked the third inter-Korean summit and the first to be held in the RoK.

Kim stressed the need for an agreement that will not collapse.

"I wish for it to be a chance for us to walk forward hand-in-hand while looking toward the future with a determination, instead of (summit) outcomes like those in the past that could not be implemented," he told Moon.

The two Koreas had agreed to denuclearize their countries and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula in their two previous summits held in 2000 and 2007.

The agreements from the earlier inter-Korean summits have apparently collapsed.

"The world's eyes and ears are directed toward this place, Panmunjom. The expectations of the people of both the South and the North, as well as our overseas citizens, are also very high," Moon said of the importance of progress at the meeting.

"I wish our talks too will be held frankly, so we can reach an agreement and create a great present for our people and everyone else in the world who wishes for peace," he added.

"I came to put an end to the history of confrontation and to resolve the issues that create problems in our relations together with the president," the DPRK leader was quoted as saying.

"I have come to have confidence that a good day will certainly come," he added, according to Yoon.

After the talks ended, Kim returned to his country where he will have lunch and rest before coming back to the RoK’s side of Panmunjom for various events that include a friendship walk with the RoK president.

The leaders will also jointly plant a tree to mark their summit, which Moon has said he wishes to hold regularly.

While the leaders take a brief recess, the countries will continue to hold working-level discussions to craft an agreed outcome of their summit, Yoon said.

"They have agreed to continue working-level discussions to craft a joint declaration and once the declaration is made, the leaders will hold a signing ceremony and jointly announce it," he said in a separate briefing held later.

The leaders will be joined later by their wives for a welcome dinner set to be hosted by Moon, Yoon said.

Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, was set to arrive at Panmunjom at 6:15 p.m. for a brief visit with RoK first lady Kim Jung-sook. The meeting will also mark the first-ever meeting of first ladies of the divided Koreas.

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