NORTH KOREA (OBSERVATORY) – South Korean President Kim Jong-un and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Friday at the military line dividing the Korean Peninsula before a historic accused, in a move of high symbolic value.
When Kim crosses the dividing line on foot, he will become the first North Korean leader to travel south since the end of the Korean War 65 years ago.
Moon will meet his northern guest before the cement barriers that demarcate the inter-Korean border in the demilitarized zone, said South Korean Presidential Secretary Im Jong-seok.
The summit, the third of its kind, follows two inter-Korean contracts held in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, the result of intense diplomatic efforts on the peninsula in recent months. The summit will be followed by another landmark meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
The issue of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is supposed to be on the list of priorities to be discussed.
Since Kim came to power in late 2011 following the death of his father, he has accelerated the development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs, and the tension on the peninsula has reached its peak.
In 2017, Pyongyang conducted its strongest nuclear test so far and tested intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching US territory.
But since Kim Jong-un announced his country’s participation in the winter Olympic Games in Pyongyang in the south, the two Koreas have seen a great rapprochement.
– A difficult topic –
“An agreement on nuclear disarmament at a time when North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs have made significant progress will be different in nature from the disarmament agreements of the 1990s and the beginning of the first decade of the millennium,” he said.
“This is what makes this summit particularly difficult,” he said, adding that “the most sensitive thing would be to see how well the two leaders can agree on the will of nuclear disarmament” and how “they will say it on paper.”
In the past, the concept of “denuclearization” meant for Pyongyang to leave 28,500 US military presence in the south and to remove the US nuclear umbrella, which Washington did not want.
According to Seoul, the two leaders could discuss a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War (1950-1953) that ended with a truce agreement so that the two countries are practically at war.
Renewal of reunions of families torn apart by war may also be discussed.
Moon told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would raise the issue of the abductees by North Korean agents to train Pyongyang spies, which Tokyo considers too sensitive.
After meeting at the border line on Friday, the two leaders will go on foot towards the Peace House, a glass and cement building on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone where the truce was signed.
Kim will sign the guest book before the start of the morning meeting, according to Im.
– Two mountains and a pine tree –
The two delegations will have lunch separately, so that the Nordic delegation will cross the border back to its dining area.
“It will represent peace and prosperity at the demarcation line, which has been the symbol of confrontation and division for 65 years,” said Im Moon and Kim, who will be planting together before noon.
As for the soil that will be used to plant the tree, it will be Mount Baiktu, a sacred place for North Korea and Mount Hala on South Jeju Island.
After signing the agreement, a joint statement is expected. “We may call it the Panmunjom + declaration,” said the presidential secretary in the south.
The North delegation will include Kim’s sister, Kim Yu-jong, who is his closest adviser to the Winter Olympic Games in the south in February.
North Korean President Kim Yong Nam, who accompanied the leader’s sister to the Winter Games, will also take part in his country’s delegation to the historic summit.
“In contrast to what happened in the past, the delegation includes a number of senior military and diplomatic officials,” he said.
“We did not expect that, we think that means that North Korea sees it not only as a North-South summit, but from a summit perspective with Washington,” he said.