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Trump Negotiates Peace between North and South Korea

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Issued: 2018-05-15

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in pledge denuclearisation and end to decades of hostility after summit

Benjamin Haas in Goyang, South Korea, Justin McCurry in Tokyo and David Smith in Washington

Fri 27 Apr 2018 07.35 EDT Last modified on Mon 30 Apr 2018 04.27 EDT

The leaders of North and South Korea have promised after a landmark summit to bring “lasting peace” to the peninsula with a commitment to denuclearisation and to ending decades of hostilities.

Speaking at the end of an extraordinary day that began with a lingering handshake across the demarcation line separating their countries, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, issued a joint statement that was short on detail but offered cause for optimism as the world looks ahead to a summit between Kim and Donald Trump.

The US president, in his first comments on the declaration, tweeted: “Good things are happening, but only time will tell!” He later added: “KOREAN WAR TO END!”

KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!

Speaking at the White House, Trump warned that the US was “not going to be played” by North Korea, later the US president said he was getting close to choosing a venue for talks with Kim. “We’re setting up meetings now,” he said. “We’re down to two countries... and we’ll let you know what that site is.”

At a joint press conference with Angela Merkel, Trump said: “Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearisation occurs. I look forward to our meeting, which will be quite something.”

The Panmunjom declaration, named after the truce village that hosted the talks on Friday, committed the two Koreas to seek the “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula.

“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula,” it said. “South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard.”

The statement did not specify what Pyongyang expected in return for abandoning its nuclear weapons – the regime’s best deterrent against what it regards as a hostile US.

Speaking outside the peace house on the southern side of the border that has divided the Korean peninsula for 65 years, the leaders also pledged to push for talks with the US, and possibly China, to formally end the 1950-53 Korean war with a peace treaty to replace the uneasy truce that stopped hostilities.

North and South Korea have been divided since the end of the Korean War (1950-53), and except for about a decade ending in 2008, relations between the two have remained frosty. The two nations technically remain in a state of war, since a peace treaty was never signed. There have been occasional outbreaks of violence, most recently in 2010 when 50 people were killed when a South Korean navy corvette was sunk and several islands close to the border were attacked.

This meeting could touch on a formal truce but this is also not the first time North Korea has expressed a willingness to abandon its nuclear ambitions. A deal with the US, Japan and South Korea in the 1990s was meant to give the North civilian nuclear power without the ability to build a weapon, but the reactor was never finished.

North Korea pledged to relinquish its nuclear programme in 2007 in exchange for sanctions relief and fuel, but later pulled out of that agreement and expelled inspectors in 2009.

Read a full explainer on the Korea summit here

Noting that more than a decade had passed since the countries’ leaders last met, Kim and Moon agreed to talk regularly by phone and meet more often, starting with a summit in Pyongyang in autumn.

They vowed to work more closely on a host of bilateral issues, including reuniting families divided by the Korean war and improving cross-border transport links.

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