Korea summit: four key takeaways from historic talks

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in announce peace roadmap - but what does it all mean?

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in embrace after signing the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace
Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in embrace after signing the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace
(Image credit: Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in today signed a historic declaration pledging to “completely denuclearise” the Korean Peninsula, and stating that there would be “no more war” between the two countries.

The highly anticipated meeting of the two leaders was beamed live around the world, as Kim became the first North Korean leader to step over the military demarcation line at the border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The historic day of talks was followed by a formal dinner, with both leaders’ wives in attendence.

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Here are the most important takeaways from the landmark summit:

US and China to help end the 68-year war

Kim and Moon agreed to push for three-way talks involving the US and China, in order to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped in an armistice and left the Koreas still technically at war.

Washington and Beijing have been following the summit closely. US President Donald Trump appeared to endorse the prospect of ending the war, tweeting early on Friday that the conflict would “end” and that the US should be “proud”.

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Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said that Beijing applauds “the North and South Korean leaders for taking this historic step, and commend their political judgment and courage”. Chinese officials have yet to comment on the prospect of ending the war.

Moon inadvertantly became first South Korean leader to visit the North since 2007

At the start of the ceremony, which was full of “pomp and circumstance”, an apparently unscripted move by Kim appeared to catch Moon off guard, reports CNN.

The South Korean president was waiting on his side of the demarcation line when Kim crossed over the border. The North Korean leader was the first to speak as the pair shook hands for about 30 seconds, says ABC News - and then asked his South Korean counterpart to reciprocate the symbolic crossing.

Officials applauded as they both briefly stepped back over the line, making Moon the first South Korean leader to visit the North in more than a decade.

“New era of peace” will include family reunification and transport links

Following the morning talks, which took place in the Peace House in the so-called truce village of Panmunjom, the two leaders said in a joint statement that they were aiming to end all “hostile activities” between the two nations.

The bid to resolve issues stemming from the Korean War will prioritise organising a reunion of families left divided by the conflict, as well as rebuilding and modernising rail and transport links between the two nations.

Further joint participation in sporting events was also mentioned, including at this year’s Asian Games in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. In February, the Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang, in South Korea, saw the two Koreas compete under the same unified flag; an unprecedented move that was described as “something special” by The Independent.

Denuclearisation is still on the table

The most pressing issue prior to the meeting was that of denuclearisation and the dismantling of North Korea’s illegal weapons programme.

Today’s summit appears to have helped ease tensions in the run-up to the meeting between Kim and President Trump in May, following previous threats by the North to destroy both the US and South Korea.

Kim has struck a conciliatory tone in recent months, a stance he continued this morning. Speaking at the border, Kim said that he and Moon had agreed to work together closely to ensure there was not a repeat of the region’s “unfortunate history”, during which previous progress had “fizzled out”.

However, details of how denuclearisation would be achieved were not made clear, and many analysts remain sceptical about the North’s apparent enthusiasm for engagement, the BBC reports.

Vipin Narang, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told CNN that the North “has long committed to ‘denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’, which is not the same thing as unilateral disarmament. Reaffirming this language is not new and should be treated with caution, historic summit notwithstanding.”

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