Kim Jong Un, will soon make a historic visit to Seoul, he said Wednesday and has agreed to close a missile testing site in front of international inspectors, as a rare inter-Korean summit unfolded in Pyongyang.
However, progress on the key issue of dismantling the North’s nuclear arsenal was limited, even though the South’s President Moon Jae-in had hoped to bring fresh momentum to stalled talks between his hosts and the United States.
Kim said he would travel to Seoul “in the near future”, adding that the agreement he signed with Moon “carries the people’s fresh hope and the people’s strong, flaming desire for reunification”.
In Singapore, Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula, but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have since sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved.
Washington is pressing for the North’s “final, fully verified denuclearisation”, while Pyongyang wants a formal declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over and has condemned “gangster-like” demands for it to give up its weapons unilaterally.
Asked if any deal on denuclearisation had been struck, Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said: “It’s difficult to say at this moment that the two leaders have reached any agreement.”
They had “frank and sincere” discussions after Moon arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday, Yoon told reporters in Seoul, adding: “They still need a lot more talks.” “If and when” they reach an agreement, they would announce it jointly but not take questions, he said.
Wednesday’s talks took place at the Paekhwawon official guesthouse on the outskirts of Pyongyang.
The two leaders were shown on television walking down a long corridor talking together, followed by their wives, before entering a room where the cameras could not follow.
The summit was taking place in a “festive mood”, It was said , but warned that “Moon and his entourage must not forget why he is visiting Pyongyang:.
“Unlike the past, the success of the summit cannot be evaluated by the theatrics. The only standard is whether it contributes to creating a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. It must provide a breakthrough to revive stalled US-North Korea talks,” it said.>