Tuesday 22 May 2018

North and South shake hands on historic deal for a final peace

The US, Japan and Russia welcome Korean agreement

Kim Jong-un (left) and Moon Jae-in (right) at the meeting. Photo: AP
Kim Jong-un (left) and Moon Jae-in (right) at the meeting. Photo: AP

Nicola Smith

Hailing a "new era of peace", North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sealed their talks yesterday with a joint declaration and a bear hug, reaffirming their commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The historic summit also agreed to push for three or four-way talks involving the US and China to replace the Korean armistice with a peace treaty.

In his first ever speech to the world, standing outside the Peace House on the demilitarised border zone, Kim Jong-un first thanked Mr Moon and the South Korean people for their warm welcome.

"It took a long time for the two Koreas to come together and to hold hands and we have long waited for this moment to happen, all of us," he said.

South Korea’s first lady Kim Jung-sook (left) shakes hands with North Korea’s Ri Sol-ju at the Peace House in Panmunjom. Photo: Getty Images
South Korea’s first lady Kim Jung-sook (left) shakes hands with North Korea’s Ri Sol-ju at the Peace House in Panmunjom. Photo: Getty Images

"As I stand here I can see that South and North Koreans are the same people, they cannot be separated. We are compatriots...

"We should not be confronting each other, we are the same people and should live in unity. I hope we will be able to live very peacefully in the future, as soon as possible."

He pledged his support for "permanent peace", adding "we will adopt the Panmunjom declarations while the whole world is watching us.

"I believe the declaration…will never let us repeat our past mistakes."

Mr Kim expressed hope that one day South and North Korean citizens would be able to use the same road he had to reach the summit.

"Panmunjom is a symbol of pain and suffering and division but it will turn into a symbol of peace. Using one language, one culture, one history South and North Korea will be reunited as one country, thus enjoying everlasting peace and prosperity," he said.

President Moon praised the "precious" agreement and declared a "new era of peace", pledging "there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula."

"Chairman Kim and I have decided that complete denuclearisation will be achieved and that is our common goal," he said.

In the official declaration the two leaders vowed "they will not use any form of force against each other" and agreed to strictly abide by the agreement.

The South and the North also agreed to "gradually realise arms reduction when their military tension is removed and trust is practically established".

The two sides also agreed to set up a liaison office, continue future talks and reintroduce the long-stalled reunions of families separated by the division of the two Koreas.

After announcing their declaration, Mr Kim and Mr Moon joined their wives, Ri Sol-ju and Kim Jung-sook, for a banquet.

"I'm happy to hear from my husband that the summit was a success," said Ms Ri.

Both Mr Kim and Mr Moon will seek meetings with the United States and possibly China - both of them parties to the ceasefire - "with a view to declaring an end to the war and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime", the statement said.

Mr Moon would visit Pyongyang in the autumn, the two leaders said, agreeing also to hold "regular meetings and direct telephone conversations".

There would also be a reunion of families left divided when the Korean War ended, one of the most emotive issues for the people of the two countries.

World leaders reacted positively to the summit, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling it "good news".

US President Donald Trump also reacted positively to the meeting, saying: "After a furious year of missile launches and nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell."

In typical fashion, he followed it up with a Tweet that read: "KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!"

The two men shook hands as they met for the first time at 9.30am local time, and Mr Kim became the first North Korean leader to cross over to the southern side of the Demilitarised Zone since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Mr Kim emerged from the Panmungak, the North's symbolic building 80 metres north of border, with a large entourage including his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong.

Having embraced his counterpart on the border, which is marked out with slabs, the pair set about solving world peace.

After initial talks on Friday morning, they broke for lunch in their respective countries before re-emerging for a ceremonial tree-planting ceremony, which was laden with symbolism.

Mr Kim and Mr Moon planted a pine tree - standing for peace and prosperity - with soil and water from both countries.

The tree is said to have been seeded in 1953 - the year the Korean War ended.

They sat around an oval table to symbolise there should be no distance between the two countries, and it measured 2,018mm to mark the year.

Other symbolic gestures included custom-made furniture, a walk over a footbridge and the careful selection of food on the menu at Friday night's banquet - attended by the leaders' wives. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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