The leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.
But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big condition, with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un stating he’d permanently dismantle his main nuclear complex only if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.
CGTN’s Shane Hamh reports.
China has welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit and will continue supporting both sides in further talks on reducing tensions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday China noted the positive effects of the meeting on easing military tensions and promoting peace talks and the denuclearization process.
Compared to the vague language of their two summits earlier this year, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed in their second day of meetings to an ambitious program meant to tackle soaring tensions last year that had many fearing war as the DPRK tested a string of increasingly powerful weapons.
Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both leaders vowed to work together to try to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.
But while containing several tantalizing offers, their joint statement appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking for — such as a commitment by Kim to provide a list of DPRK’s nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline for closing them down, or an agreement to allow international inspectors to assess progress or discover violations.
It also was unclear what “corresponding steps” the DPRK wants from the U.S. to dismantle its nuclear site.
The question is whether it will be enough for U.S. President Donald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off. Trump, tweeting about the Korean leaders’ agreements, said, “Very exciting!”
Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts. In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being……..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2018
….returned home to the United States. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2018
Declaring they had made a major step toward peace, Moon and Kim stood side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning. They took no questions.
“We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat,” Kim said at the guesthouse where Moon is staying. “The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can’t anticipate. But we aren’t afraid of headwinds because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength of our nation.”
Kim and Moon earlier smiled and chatted as they walked down a hallway and into a meeting room to finalize the joint statement, which also said that the leaders would push for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and to “eliminate all the danger of war.” Moon and Kim planned to visit a volcano sacred to the North on Thursday, the last day of Moon’s visit.
This week’s summit comes as Moon is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in efforts to get Kim to completely — and unilaterally — abandon his nuclear arsenal.
Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship, and both leaders have expressed interest in a follow-up summit to their meeting in June in Singapore. North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader mentioned it Wednesday as they read the joint statement.
In the meantime, however, Moon and Kim made concrete moves of their own to reduce tensions on their border.
According to a statement signed by the countries’ defense chiefs, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes. They also agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone by December and to establish a no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones.
Though not directly linked to security, the leaders’ announcement that they would seek a joint Summer Olympics was a significant move in terms of easing tensions and building trust. It also flows from the North’s decision to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February, which was regarded as a success for both sides.
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