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Moon-Kim summit to start early Friday, forge personal ties

Update: April, 26/2018 - 11:59
A North Korean soldier stands before the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas, with ’Peace House’ - where the summit will take place - in the background on the right.—AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

GOYANG — The historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will include various events apparently aimed at forming personal ties between the two leaders that may assist international efforts to rid the North of its nuclear weapons down the road, a detailed schedule of the meeting released on Thursday showed.

The first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade will begin at 9:30 am Friday when the North Korean leader is scheduled to cross the heavily armed border to the Peace House, a South Korean facility located just south of the border at the joint security area of Panmunjom.

"President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong-un will begin their historic first meeting at the military demarcation line in Panmunjom at around 9:30 tomorrow morning," Moon’s chief of staff Im Jong-seok told a press briefing, referring to the North Korean leader by his official title as head of the state affairs commission.

Kim will cross the inter-Korean border on foot, becoming the first North Korean leader to have stepped on South Korean soil since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Moon-Kim meeting will mark the third inter-Korean summit, but the first to be held in South Korea. The two previous summits, in 2000 and 2007, were both held in Pyongyang.

The two leaders will together walk a short distance from the border to the South Korean venue of their bilateral summit, in front of which they will jointly inspect a South Korean honor guard, again making Kim the first North Korean leader to do so, according to Im.

Moon’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae earlier said the country planned to welcome and treat Kim as a state guest, which will include an official welcoming ceremony.

The leaders will begin their official dialogue at 10:30 am following a brief preliminary meeting at the Peace House, Im told a press briefing.

They will have lunch separately, followed by a recess before they meet again to jointly plant a tree commemorating their first meeting.

Along with the tree, a pine, the two leaders will lay a keystone that reads "Here we plant peace and prosperity,"

Friday’s meeting follows a height of tension between the divided Koreas that technically remain at war. North Korea has staged nearly a dozen missile tests since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May 2017, also conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September.

Im said the top agenda items at the summit are the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace.

"The difficult part is how high an agreement the two leaders may reach and how such an agreement can be stipulated," he told the press briefing.

Moon will apparently seek to form a personal relationship with Kim, with the leaders scheduled to take a brief stroll together before the countries announce the outcome of their one-day summit.

The two may continue to hold talks in the future as the countries have already installed a new direct hotline between their leaders’ offices.

The third inter-Korean summit will end after a welcoming dinner to be hosted by Moon.

Im said it has still not been decided whether the leaders’ wives will also be present at the historic summit. —YONHAP

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