Date
22 October 2018
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un make a toast during a banquet in Pyongyang, in this photo released by North Korea on Wednesday. Credit: KCNA via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un make a toast during a banquet in Pyongyang, in this photo released by North Korea on Wednesday. Credit: KCNA via Reuters

Inter-Korean summit aims for agreement to unlock nuclear talks

Leaders of South and North Korea plan to announce steps aimed at rekindling stalled nuclear talks and deepening bilateral ties after they meet for a second day of summit talks on Wednesday in Pyongyang, Reuters reports.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in kicked off their third meeting on Tuesday, during which Kim said his “historic” summit with US President Donald Trump in June had improved regional stability and raised hopes for further progress. 

The summit, the third between Kim and Moon this year, is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, the report cited South Korean officials as saying.

The two Koreas are also working to adopt a separate military accord aimed at defusing tensions and preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.

“What we’re trying to achieve is irreversible, lasting peace. We want to move towards a new era based on the existing agreement, not a new declaration,” Moon’s press secretary Yoon Young-chan was quoted as saying at a news briefing on Tuesday.

According to aides to Moon, Trump has asked Moon to be “chief negotiator” between himself and Kim, after the US president canceled a trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month citing lack of progress in nuclear talks.

A joint statement expected from the two leaders at the conclusion of their talks on Wednesday will provide clues to whether negotiations between North Korea and the US over dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs could regain momentum, the report noted.

The outcome will also be a litmus test for another meeting Kim has recently proposed to Trump.

Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his first meeting with Moon in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas in April, and at his summit with Trump in June.

But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered, with Washington demanding concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang – declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, Reuters noted.

Pyongyang has given no indication it is willing to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally and is seeking relief from tough international sanctions.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Tuesday that Washington hopes the latest North-South summit will bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea.”

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RC

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