The leaders of North and South Korea made their way to the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries early on Friday for a landmark meeting aimed at improving inter-Korean relations and ease tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in greeted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the military demarcation line, making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, Reuters reports.
The two are expected to talk denuclearization and exchanges between the Koreas as part of the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.
Friday’s summit will set the stage for Kim to meet with US President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what would be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries, Reuters noted.
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said Kim had left Pyongyang for the “historical” summit in which he would “open-heartedly discuss with Moon Jae-in all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula.”
Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.
Hundreds of demonstrators were seen gathering in downtown Seoul from early morning to protest or support the summit.
Skepticism has been rampant about whether Kim is ready to abandon the hard-earned nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades.
The two neighbors expect to release a joint statement late on Friday – possibly called the Panmunjom Declaration – that could address denuclearization and peace, and an improvement in relations, South Korean officials said.
– Contact us at [email protected]