Seoul:The leaders of North and South Korea signed a declaration on Friday agreeing to work for the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”
At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula.
The declaration included promises to pursue military arms reduction, cease “hostile acts,” turn their fortified border into a “peace zone,” and seek multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States.
“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the two sides said in a joint statement.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang this year, they said.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un thanked his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in for greeting him at a “historic place” ahead of their meeting. At the historic moment when the two leaders shook hands across the demarcation line that divides the rivals, Kim said that his heart “keeps throbbing.”
Moon replied to Kim’s thanks by saying that the North Korean leader made a “very courageous decision” to come to the South.
Kim, breaking from the script, 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.
‘A new history starts now’
Both leaders smiled broadly on Friday as Moon grasped Kim’s hand and led him along a blindingly red carpet into South Korean territory, where school children gave Kim flowers and an honour 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 member of the ruling Kim dynasty has crossed over to the southern side of the Demilitarised Zone since the Korean War ended in 1953.
He stopped to sign a guest book in the South’s Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.
“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in the book, dating and signing the entry.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a reference to a South Korean island targeted by a North Korean artillery attack that killed four in 2010.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s senior spokesman said Kim said the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living under the fear of North Korean artillery attacks and also families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War have high hopes for the inter-Korean talks to help heal past scars.
Moon called for more meetings between the leaders and said he wishes to travel in North Korea to visit Mount Paektu near the country’s border with China.
Kim said the trip under current conditions would be uncomfortable, but the North would improve its transportation networks should Moon decided to visit.