Tuesday, October 16 2018

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Moon landing: S. Korean leader arrives in Pyongyang for summit

Update: September, 18/2018 - 11:00
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (front, right), alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attends a welcome ceremony at Pyongyang International Airport on Tuesday. - KYODO/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

SEOUL South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for his third summit this year with Kim Jong Un as he seeks to reboot stalled denuclearisation talks between North Korea and the United States.

Kim welcomed his visitor at Pyongyang’s international airport - where he supervised missile launches last year as tensions mounted - the two men embracing after Moon walked down the steps of his aircraft.

Accompanied by their wives, they exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes ahead of a military welcome ceremony as hundreds of people lining the tarmac cheered, waving North Korean flags and unification ones showing an undivided peninsula.

"Let’s open an era of peace and prosperity with the solidarity of one people," read a hoarding displayed outside the terminal.

Moon is on a three-day trip, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and mentor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the summit "will offer an important opportunity in further accelerating the development of inter-Korean relations that is making a new history".

The first visit by a South Korean leader to Pyongyang in a decade is also the men’s third meeting this year after two previous summits in April and May in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula.

Moon has been instrumental in brokering the diplomatic thaw that saw a historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, where Kim backed denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

But no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved.

The US 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.

The South Korean president will hold at least two meetings with the North’s leader, where he will try to convince Pyongyang to carry out substantive steps towards disarmament.

"If this visit somehow leads to the resumption of the US-North Korea talks, it would be significant enough in itself," he was quoted as saying before departure.

Moon was accompanied by business tycoons including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong and the vice chairman of Hyundai Motor, and is scheduled to visit key sites in Pyongyang with his delegation.

Moon has been pushing inter-Korean cooperation but South Korean media have urged caution, calling for such schemes to await substantial progress towards denuclearisation.

The president’s office has said the inclusion of the businessmen was "not special", given the heads of major conglomerates had been in Pyongyang for the previous inter-Korean summits in the city.

"Quite a number of people are now fed up with the surprise events between the leaders," the conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial on Tuesday.

"President Moon must head to Pyongyang with the resolve that the first, second, third agenda of this summit is denuclearisation."

Other issues on Moon’s agenda include improving inter-Korean ties and easing military tensions on the peninsula. AFP

 

 

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