North and South Korean leaders aim to end war after historic summit

The two leaders promised to bring 'lasting peace' and denuclearise the peninsula 

North and South Korean leaders during today's summit
North and South Korean leaders during today's summit

The leaders of North and South Korea have promised to bring “lasting peace” to the peninsula and denuclearization, ending decades of hostility.

The two said this at the end of an extraordinary day summit, when Kim Jong-un and the South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, issued a joint statement.

The two also agreed to push towards turning the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty this year.

Details of how denuclearisation would be achieved were not made clear and many analysts remain sceptical about the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement.

Speaking outside the peace house on the southern side of the border that has divided the Korean peninsula for 65 years, the leaders also pledged to push for talks with the US, and possibly China, to formally end the 1950-53 Korean war with a peace treaty to replace the uneasy truce that stopped hostilities.

Previous inter-Korean agreements have included similar pledges, but were later abandoned after the North resorted to nuclear and missile tests and the South elected more conservative presidents.

The US president, in his first comments on the declaration, tweeted: “Good things are happening, but only time will tell!” He later added: “KOREAN WAR TO END!”

Noting that more than a decade had passed since the countries’ leaders last met, Kim and Moon agreed to talk regularly by phone and meet more often, starting with a summit in Pyongyang in autumn.

“We were able to stand together today and agree that we should denuclearise the Korean peninsula,” Moon said, according to a translation provided by South Korea’s Arirang TV.

With Kim standing nearby behind a separate podium, he said. “To completely denuclearise, we declare that we will cooperate to bring about an everlasting peace on the peninsula.”

They vowed to work more closely on a host of bilateral issues, including reuniting families divided by the Korean war and improving cross-border transport links.

Other points the leaders agreed on in a joint statement were:

  • An end to "hostile activities" between the two nations
  • Changing the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that divides the country into a "peace zone" by ceasing propaganda broadcasts
  • An arms reduction in the region pending the easing of military tension
  • To push for four-way talks involving the US and China
  • Organising a reunion of families left divided by the war
  • Connecting and modernising railways and roads across the border
  • Further joint participation in sporting events, including this year's Asian Games

From Tuesday, both countries will suspend all loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts and dismantle broadcasting equipment. They will also stop sending propaganda leaflets across the border.

Kim said: “We hope we will not repeat the mistake of the past. I hope this will be an opportunity for the Korean people to move freely from North to South. We need to take responsibility for our own history.

“We have waited for this day for a very long time. We are tied by blood and cannot be separated – we are the same country, the same people, and should not be separated by hostility.

 “We hope we can open a new road towards a new future, and that is why I crossed the demarcation line today. We hope for a new era of peace, and we have reaffirmed our commitment to that.”

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