Kim says 'a new history starts now', as leaders of two Koreas begin summit

Kim says 'a new history starts now', as leaders of two Koreas begin summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae In as both of them arrive for the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, on April 27, 2018.
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - Smiling and holding hands, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the heavily fortified demilitarised zone between the countries on Friday in the first summit for the two Koreas in over a decade.

The meeting, aimed at ending their decades-long conflict and easing tensions over the North's nuclear weapons programme, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump.

Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT, 8.30am Singapore time), making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

The two were handed flowers by a South Korean boy and girl, residents of a village situated in the demilitarised zone.

Kim Jong-un first N Korean leader to cross border into South since war

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    South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook attend a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

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    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) toast with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (2nd R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R) during the official dinner at the end of their historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018.

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    The leaders of North and South Korea agreed Friday to pursue a permanent peace and the complete denuclearisation of the divided peninsula, as they embraced after a historic summit laden with symbolism.

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    The leaders of North and South Korea agreed Friday to pursue a permanent peace and the complete denuclearisation of the divided peninsula, as they embraced after a historic summit laden with symbolism.

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    Upon signing the document, the two leaders shared a warm embrace, the culmination of a summit filled with smiles and displays of friendship in front of the world’s media.

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    Upon signing the document, the two leaders shared a warm embrace, the culmination of a summit filled with smiles and displays of friendship in front of the world’s media.

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    Among the many spectacles Friday's inter-Korean summit offered was the two Korea's first ladies' first-ever meeting with one another, and the seemingly instant bond they formed.

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    The two were holding hands as they left the Peace House after the dinner, and did not let go of each other's hands until they reached an outdoor property where they watched a special performance celebrating the historic summit together.

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    And the two first ladies, in spite of seeing each other for the first time, seemed to have bonded well after the spring-themed banquet event.

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    And the two first ladies, in spite of seeing each other for the first time, seemed to have bonded well after the spring-themed banquet event.

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    Kim, who is some 30 years Ri's senior, extended a warm welcome and took her to the Peace House, where the summit had been taking place since earlier in the day.

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    In the afternoon, they planted a memorial tree and watered it with water from rivers in the South and North, before walking into a small glen along the border and across the blue footbridge for their private tete-a-tete as the sun set.

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    Moon would visit Pyongyang in “the fall”, the two leaders said, also agreeing to hold “regular meetings and direct telephone conversations”.

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    After the summit, he pledged that the two Koreas will ensure they did not “repeat the unfortunate history in which past inter-Korea agreements... fizzled out after beginning”.

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    The two previous Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, both of them in Pyongyang, also ended with displays of affection and similar pledges, but the agreements ultimately came to naught.

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into South Korea for the first time on Friday. The two leaders were handed flowers by a South Korean boy and girl, residents of a village situated in the demilitarised zone.

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    Kim was greeted by the South’s president, Moon Jae-in ahead of the two Koreas’ first summit in more than a decade.

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    Kim said he felt a “swirl of emotion” as he walked the short distance to the border, wondering “why it took so long”, he told Moon later, at the beginning of their meeting.

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    The two leaders smiled and shook hands after which Kim Jong Un gestured to Moon they cross over to North Korea briefly, which they did for a few steps, then returned to the South, holding hands.

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    The two leaders smiled and shook hands after which Kim Jong Un gestured to Moon they cross over to North Korea briefly, which they did for a few steps, then returned to the South, holding hands.

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    A new period in inter-Korean history was beginning, Kim Jong Un said Friday at the opening of a summit with the South.

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    “I came here determined to send a starting signal at the threshold of a new history,” he told his host Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone, promising a “frank, serious and honest mindset”.

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    Kim wore glasses and his trademark black Mao suit, while the rest of the North Korean delegation appeared in military uniforms or Western attire.

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    Kim stopped to sign a guest book in the South’s Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.

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    His message read: ""A new history begins now. At the starting point of history and the era of peace."

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    Kim escorted by his bodyguards as he makes his way to the Military Demarcation Line.

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    The two men went back to their separate sides for lunch, Kim driven in a black limousine and escorted by a dozen bodyguards in dark suits and ties jogging alongside the vehicle.

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in sat down at an oval table to begin their inter-Korean summit Friday, television footage showed.

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    Both leaders viewing the painting of Bukhansan at the Peace House

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    Walking on a red carpet rolled out for the two heads of state, the pair were met by a South Korean honour guard in historical costumes and playing traditional music.

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    The two are expected to talk denuclearisation and exchanges between the Koreas and also will plant a memorial tree at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

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Walking on a red carpet rolled out for the two heads of state, the pair were met by a South Korean honour guard in historical costumes and playing traditional music.

Kim wore glasses and his trademark black Mao suit, while the rest of the North Korean delegation appeared in military uniforms or Western attire.

Kim stopped to sign a guest book in the South's Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.

"A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history," Kim wrote in Korean in the book, dating and signing the entry.

Moon and Kim are expected to talk denuclearisation and exchanges between the Koreas and also will plant a memorial tree at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

The United States is hopeful talks between Kim and Moon will make progress on achieving peace and prosperity, the White House said in a statement as the two men began their summit.

The White House also said it looks forward to continuing discussions with South Korea in preparation for the planned meeting of Trump and Kim in the coming weeks.

Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as North Korea's rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States raised fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Earlier Friday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Kim 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.

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WATCH: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae In as both of them arrive for...

Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, 26 April 2018

Moon travelled to the meeting in a large motorcade, stopping briefly to greet dozens of summit supporters waving South Korean flags near the Blue House.

Hundreds of demonstrators were seen gathering in downtown Seoul from early morning to protest or support the summit.

Scepticism has been rampant about whether Kim is ready to abandon the hard-earned nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against US invasion.

The two neighbours expect to release a joint statement late on Friday - possibly called the Panmunjom Declaration - that could address denuclearisation and peace, and an improvement in relations, South Korean officials said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In meeting the delegates.Photo: YouTube/KTV

UNENDING HOSTILITIES

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.

Kim and Trump are expected to meet in late May or June, with Trump saying on Thursday he was considering several possible dates and venues.

The White House released two photographs of then Secretary of State-designate and CIA chief Mike Pompeo's meeting with Kim in North Korea over the Easter weekend to discuss the planned summit. It was Kim's first known meeting with a US official.

The photos show Kim and Pompeo, who was confirmed as secretary of state on Thursday, shaking hands. In one they faced each other looking serious; in the other they both appeared to wear faint smiles. https://bit.ly/2KfRHN3 The latest summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.

For the first time, key moments such as Kim crossing the border into the South, the two leaders shaking hands and walking to the Peace House for their talks, were broadcast live.

Besides capturing the two leaders' candid interactions, the live feed broadcast a few hiccups, including when a key photo op blocked was blocked by a photographer's backside.

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