North and South Korea’s leaders reaffirmed their commitment to “complete denuclearisation” in their high-stakes summit on Friday, but they failed to announce any concrete steps to dismantle the North’s nuclear programmes.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to gradually reduce weapons on both sides, and to push for meetings with the US and China to declare the official end of the 1950-53 Korean war and replace the armistice with a peace treaty. The joint statement after the summit reads:
“We solemnly declare to our 80m Koreans and the world that there will no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new era of peace has begun,”
the two leaders said after their only third meeting.
“It is our urgent historic assignment to put an end to this current abnormal state of ceasefire and establish a peace regime,”
The warmth of the meeting and the positive, if vague, signals now set the stage for Kim to meet with President Trump at the end of May or early June. Trump has said he will only go to the talks if they promise to be “fruitful,” a bar that is likely was met with Friday’s meetings.
North and South Koreas will work towards the denuclearization
They agreed to work towards advancing the reunification of the divided nations and further improving inter-Korean relations. In order to reduce tension, the two sides agreed to hold military talks in May and set up a joint liaison office in Kaesong, the border town in the North.
They have also agreed to end any hostile activities that can lead to military clashes, including cross-border propaganda broadcasts and leaflet distribution. They will also enable Red Cross talks to discuss reunions of families separated by the Korean war.
Mr Kim on Friday walked across the military demarcation line dividing the two nations with an aim to end decades of conflict on the peninsula, becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot on the South Korean soil.
Within the space of a few months, North Korea’s leader also appears to have accepted almost every concession demanded as the price for a meeting with Donald Trump. Denuclearisation will be on the table; missile tests have been suspended, perhaps halted. There will be no demand that the US end its military presence in the south.