Next week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is scheduled to make history when he meets South Korean President Moon Jae In at a summit just inside South Korean territory across the fortified border that divides the two countries. He will be the first North Korean leader to step on South Korean soil since the 1950s.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday preparations are underway at the border truce village of Panmunjom for the April 27 summit between the two leaders, while President Moon expressed optimism, reaffirming his plan to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.
“The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the most urgent task that lies before us and a task we must complete peacefully,” the news agency quoted the president as saying.
The Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
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Following the summit between the two Koreas, Kim is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump as early as May to discuss possible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“A North Korea-U.S. summit is scheduled to be held after the South-North Korea summit. A great transition that can create a new world order in the world history is beginning to take shape,” Moon said.
South Korean presidential chief of staff, Im Jong Sok, told reporters Tuesday the two Koreas hope to release a joint statement following next week’s summit. Im said the statement would focus on denuclearization and peace on the peninsula.
Citing an unnamed South Korean official, newspaper Munwha Ilbo reported Tuesday, the joint statement would seek to ease the military standoff between the two countries.
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However, Im expressed caution about the possible joint statement, noting that any agreement between the two countries would be hard to implement without the support of the U.S.
“This summit is significant because it will set the stage for the North Korea-U.S. summit, and even a possible three-way summit between the countries,” Im told reporters. “Without U.S. support and agreement, it will be difficult to follow through on inter-Korean agreements.”
As for Moon, South Korea’s goal for the upcoming summit is to establish permanent peace with the North.
–With files from Reuters