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North Korean Leader, Kim Jong Un Reaffirms Korean Denuclearization Push |RN

Jonathan Cheng, Andrew Jeong
Related: Trump: North Korea summit would be great for the world (FOX News) 

 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had reaffirmed his commitment to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and looked forward to meeting President Donald Trump on June 12, in the latest attempt by the two Korean leaders to keep recent engagement efforts on track.

The remarks by Mr Moon came a day after the two Korean leaders met for an unannounced summit at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom on Saturday, in the second meeting between the two men in as many months.

Mr Moon said the North Korean leader reached out to him on Friday for talks, and that the two sides agreed to meet at Panmunjom in a surprise summit that Mr. Moon said on Sunday was “like an ordinary meeting between friends.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018 © Getty South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018

The meeting, together with optimistic remarks from Mr Trump on Saturday, marked a swift reversal from Thursday when Mr Trump wrote an open letter to Mr Kim calling off plans for a meeting and instead reminded him of the power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

On Sunday, Mr Moon said that he and Mr Kim expected plans for a June 12 summit in Singapore between Messrs. Trump and Kim to be a success, and added that he hoped to later hold a trilateral meeting with the U.S. president and North Korean leader.

Mr Moon said Mr Kim had expressed concerns at their Saturday meeting about whether the U.S. “could be fully trusted to guarantee his regime’s survival” if North Korea were to give up its nuclear weapons.

“I conveyed President Trump’s message that the U.S. would guarantee his regime’s survival, and provide economic aid if North Korea pursues complete denuclearization,” Mr Moon said.

Asked by a reporter if Mr Kim had agreed to the U.S.’s call for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, Mr Moon said that the U.S. and North Korea needed to work together to come to an agreement on the nuclear issue.

Saturday’s meeting—the fourth in history between leaders of the two Koreas—was the latest turn in a series of diplomatic manoeuvres as the U.S. and South Korea seek to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

a man talking on a cell phone           © Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

It followed an April 27 summit between Messrs. Moon and Kim on the south side of the line dividing the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom, at which the two men signed a Panmunjom Declaration vowing an end to war and hostilities between the two sides.

It also came days after Mr. Trump abruptly scrapped a planned summit with Mr Kim in Singapore on June 12—only to say a day later that it might still take place.

Mr. Trump said Saturday that plans for a U.S.-North Korea summit were now “moving along pretty well.”

Speaking in the Oval Office late Saturday, Mr. Trump said “we’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn’t changed.”

“I think there’s a lot of goodwill,” Mr. Trump said. “We can be successful in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Earlier Saturday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said an advance team from the White House would travel to Singapore on Sunday, as scheduled, to prepare for a summit should it take place.

Mr. Trump had scrapped plans for the summit, citing “open hostility” from the North Korean regime, as the White House considered dozens of sanctions on Pyongyang.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018 © Getty South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018

However, he has since expressed his interest in seeing the summit through, following an immediate change in tone from North Korea’s leader following the cancellation.

North Korea confirmed the meeting with Mr. Moon and the discussion of the planned Singapore summit through its state media early Sunday, saying that the meeting between Messrs. Moon and Kim happened “all of a sudden.”

The two Koreas agreed to “meet frequently in the future,” North Korea’s report said, portraying the relationship of Messrs. Moon and Kim in warm terms.

“Kim Jong Un thanked Moon Jae In for much effort made by him for the DPRK-U.S. summit scheduled for June 12, and expressed his fixed will on the historic DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” the North Korean report said, referring to North Korea by the abbreviation for its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The two Koreas also agreed to meet again for working-level talks on June 1, in a resumption of dialogue that Pyongyang had scuttled earlier this month, when it criticized South Korea for participating in an air force drill with the U.S., and for failing to muzzle a North Korean defector who has been critical of Pyongyang’s recent pursuit of dialogue.

Just days before the surprise summit at the DMZ, North Korea’s state media had lashed out at the U.S., saying that it wouldn’t participate in any summit with the U.S. focused on Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons while criticizing Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy.” The remarks were cited by Mr. Trump as the reason for the scrapping of the planned Singapore summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands © Getty North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands

The tone from Pyongyang was markedly different on Sunday, in line with a conciliatory response from North Korea to Mr. Trump’s summit cancellation. On Saturday, Mr. Kim told Mr. Moon that they should work together to improve U.S.-North Korea relations, and thanked the South Korean leader for his efforts.

“The top leaders of the north and the south open-heartedly listened to each other’s opinions on the crucial pending matters without formality, and had a candid dialogue,” the North’s report said.

Photos and video released by the presidential Blue House on Saturday showed Mr. Moon in a bear hug with Mr. Kim, and of the two men wearing broad grins as they shook hands. They met at Unification Pavilion, a building on the north side of the military demarcation line, the South said.

Other photos showed Mr. Moon being greeted by Mr. Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, and of the South Korean leader sitting across a table with Mr. Kim and Kim Yong Chol, a four-star North Korean general who has been a constant presence at his leader’s side in recent weeks. Mr. Moon was accompanied by Suh Hoon, the South’s spy chief.

Mr. Moon will share the details of the inter-Korean meeting Sunday at 10 a.m. Seoul time, said Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office, in a statement Saturday evening.

The meeting was the second between Messrs. Moon and Kim in as many months, and the fourth in history between the leaders of the two Koreas. Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, met with South Korea’s presidents in 2000 and 2007, both times in Pyongyang.

Saturday’s summit showed that Messrs. Kim and Moon are both eager to keep the diplomatic momentum going despite recent setbacks, said Markus Bell, a lecturer in Korean and Japanese studies at the University of Sheffield in the U.K.

“Donald Trump has been flip-flopping on whether he’s going to get involved and move forward on a summit, and he’s given the window for North Korea to look like the levelheaded, rational actor,” Mr. Bell said.

Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington and managing editor of 38 North, a North Korea-focused blog, said Mr. Moon’s ability to hold a snap meeting with Mr. Kim highlights the willingness of both leaders to engage in back-channel diplomacy.

“They feel comfortable enough to have direct communication and to be able to meet on short notice,” Ms. Town said, adding that the body language between them underscored that.

Mr. Kim greeted Mr. Moon, she said, “like an old friend, instead of an awkward handshake.”

Mr. Moon had been a chief proponent of direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang, and said he was “perplexed” by Mr. Trump’s cancellation of the meeting.

Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a private think tank in Seoul, said the two Korean leaders may also have been motivated by an attempt to stave off a return to U.S.-led pressure and sanctions against Pyongyang, as Mr. Trump said this week.

“The ultimate goal of this summit was to ensure that ‘maximum pressure’ doesn’t surface again in Washington after the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit,” Mr. Go said.

Mr. Moon, eager to keep talks on track, was able to draw on his historically high domestic approval ratings to continue to push things forward with the North, even in the face of Mr. Trump’s calls for a return to “maximum pressure,” Mr. Bell said.

“Moon has positioned himself as the peacemaker, and he’s riding the wave of 80% approval to basically push forward his agenda to reach out to North Korea,” he said.

The message from Messrs. Moon and Kim, he added, was: “Why do we need the U.S. doing anything if Trump is going to oscillate between ‘fire and fury’ and sharing a hamburger with Kim? Maybe we should move things forward by ourselves.”                  (Wall Street Journal)

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Kim Jong Un Meets Moon Jae-in, Says Koreas’ On Starting Line Of A New History |RN

(Provided by Wochit News)

GOYANG, South Korea — With a single step over a weathered, cracked slab of concrete, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history Friday by crossing over the world’s most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Kim then invited Moon to cross briefly back into the north with him before they returned to the southern side.

Those small steps must be seen in the context of the last year — when the United States, its ally South Korea and the North seemed at times to be on the verge of nuclear war as the North unleashed a torrent of weapons tests — but also in light of the long, destructive history of the rival Koreas, who fought one of the 20th century’s bloodiest conflicts and even today occupy a divided peninsula that’s still technically in a state of war.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim…

“I feel like I’m firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity,” Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, which had been built so that exactly 2018 millimeters separated them, to begin their closed-door talks. Moon responded that there were high expectations that they produce an agreement that will be a “big gift to the entire Korean nation and every peace-loving person in the world.”

Beyond the carefully choreographed greeting, however, it’s still not clear whether the leaders can make any progress in talks on the nuclear issue, which has bedevilled U.S. and South Korean officials for decades. North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests last year likely put it on the threshold of becoming a legitimate nuclear power. North Korea claims it has already risen to that level.

Kim and Moon in their talks vowed to have more meetings, according to Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, with Kim joking that he would make sure not to interrupt Moon’s sleep anymore, a reference to the North’s drumbeat of early morning missile tests last year. Kim also referred to a South Korean island that North Korea attacked with artillery in 2010, killing four, saying the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living in fear of North Korean artillery have high hopes the summit will help heal past scars. Kim said he’d visit Seoul’s presidential Blue House if invited.Earlier, both leaders smiled broadly as Moon grasped Kim’s hand and led him along a blindingly red carpet into South Korean territory, where schoolchildren gave Kim flowers and an honor guard stood at attention for inspection, a military band playing traditional Korean folk songs beloved by both Koreas and the South Korean equivalent of “Hail to the Chief.” It’s the first time a North Korean leader has crossed over to the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone since the Korean War ended in 1953.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from left, attend during a summit at Peace House of the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Friday, April 27, 2018. North Korean leader Kim made history by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. At right is Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from left, attends during a summit at Peace House of the border village of…

Kim’s news agency said that the leader would “open-heartedly” discuss with Moon “all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula” in a “historic” summit.

The greeting of the two leaders was planned to the last detail. Thousands of journalists were kept in a huge conference centre well away from the summit, except for a small group of tightly controlled pool reporters at the border. Moon stood near the Koreas’ dividing line, moving forward the moment he glimpsed Kim, dressed in dark, Mao-style suit, appearing in front of a building on the northern side. They shook hands with the borderline between them. Moon then invited Kim to cross into the South, and, after he did so, Kim grasped Moon’s hand and led him to the North and then back into the South. They took a ceremonial photo facing the North and then another photo facing the South.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim…

Two fifth-grade students from the Daesongdong Elementary School, the only South Korean school within the DMZ, greeted the leaders and gave Kim flowers. Kim and Moon then saluted an honour guard and military band, and Moon introduced Kim to South Korean government officials. Kim returned the favour, introducing Moon to the North Korean officials accompanying him. They then took a photo inside the Peace House, where the summit was to take place, in front of a painting of South Korea’s Bukhan Mountain, which towers over the South Korean Blue House presidential mansion. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was by his side throughout the ceremony, handing him a pen to sign a guestbook, taking the schoolchildren’s flowers from his hand and scribbling notes at the start of the talks with Moon.

Nuclear weapons will top the agenda, and Friday’s summit will be the clearest sign yet of whether it’s possible to peacefully negotiate those weapons away from a country that has spent decades doggedly building its bombs despite crippling sanctions and near-constant international opprobrium.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inspect honor guard as Kim crossed the border into South Korea for their historic face-to-face talks, in Panmunjom Friday, April 27, 2018. Their discussions will be expected to focus on whether the North can be persuaded to give up its nuclear bombs. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inspect honour guard as Kim crossed the border into South Korea for their historic face-to-face talks, in…

Expectations are generally low, given that past so-called breakthroughs on North Korea’s weapons have collapsed amid acrimonious charges of cheating and bad faith. Sceptics of engagement have long said that the North often turns to interminable rounds of diplomacy meant to ease the pain of sanctions — giving it time to perfect its weapons and win aid for unfulfilled nuclear promises.

Advocates of engagement, however, say the only way to get a deal is to do what the Koreas tried Friday: Sit down and see what’s possible.

The White House said in a statement that it is “hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. … (and) looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signs a guest book watched by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, inside the Peace House at the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Their discussions will be expected to focus on whether the North can be persuaded to give up its nuclear bombs. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)© The Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signs a guest book watched by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, inside the Peace House at the Peace House at the border village of…

Moon, a liberal whose election last year ended a decade of conservative rule in Seoul, will be looking to make some headway on the North’s nuclear program in advance of a planned summit in several weeks between Kim and Trump.

Kim, the third member of his family to rule his nation with absolute power, is eager, both in this meeting and in the Trump talks, to talk about the nearly 30,000 heavily armed U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and the lack of a formal peace treaty ending the Korea War — two factors, the North says, that make nuclear weapons necessary.

North Korea may also be looking to use the talks with Moon to set up the Trump summit, which it may see as a way to legitimize its declared status as a nuclear power.

One possible outcome Friday, aside from a rise in general goodwill between the countries, could be a proposal for a North Korean freeze of its weapons ahead of later denuclearization.

Seoul and Washington will be pushing for any freeze to be accompanied by rigorous and unfettered outside inspections of the North’s nuclear facilities since past deals have crumbled because of North Korea’s unwillingness to open up to snooping foreigners.

South Korea has acknowledged that the most difficult sticking point between the Koreas has been North Korea’s level of denuclearization commitment. Kim has reportedly said that he wouldn’t need nuclear weapons if his government’s security could be guaranteed external threats were removed.

Whatever the Koreas announce Friday, the spectacle of Kim being feted on South Korean soil was striking.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim made history Friday by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet his rival, Moon, for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)

Kim and Moon enjoyed each other’s company in the jointly controlled village of Panmunjom near the spot where a defecting North Korean soldier fled south last year in a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades, and not too far where North Korean soldiers axe-murdered two U.S. soldiers in 1976.  (Associated Press)

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