Korean leaders meet at border village in bid for rapprochement
27 April 2018
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for the first summit between the two countries in more than a decade raising hopes of a rapprochement between the two rival regimes and an end to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
South Korea, and the world at large, would dearly love to see North Korean leader Kim give up his weapons of mass destruction that his regime has so far considered as the best security for survival.
But as the two sides wound up the first round of talks in the morning today, the summit had little to cheer about a likely compromise as the two Koreas seemed still wary of each other.
Reports quoting South Korean officials said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described the country's transport conditions as poor and inadequate when South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed plans for a potential visit to the North.
Moon' spokesman Yoon Young-chan said Kim's comments came after Moon expressed a desire to travel across North Korea to visit Mount Paektu that touches the country's border with China.
Kim is said to have replied that such a trip might be currently uncomfortable for Moon because the country's transport system was deficient. Kim also praised South Korea's bullet train service, which he said, had much impressed North Korean delegates who visited the South during February's Winter Olympics.
Moon in response said North Koreans would also be able to enjoy the South's high-speed trains if the rivals improve relations and reconnect their rail networks across the border.
North Korea looked determined to end the nuclear missile tests that have only brought misery and disrepute to Pyongang. Kim also said North Korea was prepared to discuss denuclearisation with the United States, its sworn enemy.
The inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the truce village of Panmunjom was also attended by South Korea's National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon, Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong and North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.
Kim and Moon will meet later in the afternoon after they have lunch separately. Kim returned to the North in a black limousine with bodyguards surrounding the vehicle as it made its way across the border.
The two are scheduled to plant a memorial tree at the border around 0430 GMT to kick off their second session of the summit.
The dramatic meeting, aimed at ending their decades-long conflict, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump. “We are at a starting line today, where a new history of peace, prosperity and inter-Korean relations is being written,” Kim said before the two Korean leaders and their top aides began talks.
Moon and Kim are expected to discuss denuclearisation and exchanges between the Koreas. 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.
But there is widespread scepticism 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.