Korean leaders pledge peace

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In shook hands for 22 seconds at the truce village of Panmunjom yesterday before Mr Kim invited Mr Moon to cross the Military Demarcation Line into the North Korean side. Mr Moon acc
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In shook hands for 22 seconds at the truce village of Panmunjom yesterday before Mr Kim invited Mr Moon to cross the Military Demarcation Line into the North Korean side. Mr Moon accepted the invitation with a broad smile and crossed the border briefly with Mr Kim holding his hand before the two returned to the South Korean side.PHOTO: REUTERS

They sign declaration vowing to seek full denuclearisation; talks with US on the cards

The leaders of the two Koreas yesterday agreed to put an end to a decades-long war and work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

A day that began dramatically, as Mr Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South, ended with a declaration that was short on detail but promised lasting peace.

Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In greeted each other with a long handshake in the morning and capped the day with a warm hug after signing the document that promises to reshape Korean history.

Displaying surprisingly good chemistry, the leaders exchanged light banter amid solemn promises and even broke off for a half-hour private chat on a footbridge without their aides at one point.

"(We) solemnly declare before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun," their declaration said.

Standing beside Mr Moon after their signing, Mr Kim said: "We are the same people with the same blood and we cannot be separated."

'There will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new era of peace has begun.'

MR KIM JONG UN AND MR MOON JAE IN, in a joint statement.

"We are compatriots... we are not people who should be confronting each other, we are of the same people living in unity, I hope we can live peacefully in the future," he added.

Mr Moon has agreed to visit Pyongyang this autumn for talks.

Also on the cards are talks between the two Koreas and the United States - and possibly China - "with a view to declaring an end to the Korean War", they said. Fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War ceased with an armistice. This has, to date, not been replaced by a peace treaty.

In an unscripted moment yesterday, Mr Kim took Mr Moon's hand and stepped across to the North's side of the border. Both men also planted a pine tree dating back to 1953, and poured soil and water from both sides in a gesture laden with symbolism, and continued their conversation over dinner.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump, who Mr Kim may meet by June, tweeted: "KOREAN WAR TO END!" He said it would have been a "much longer, tougher, process" without "the great help" of Chinese President Xi Jinping in imposing harsh sanctions.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing is willing to play its part in pushing for denuclearisation. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the summit, while urging "concrete action".

Mr Moon hailed Mr Kim's "bold and courageous decision." He said: " We will jointly take on the leadership role and initiative, so as to set peace on the Korean peninsula."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Korean leaders pledge peace'. Print Edition | Subscribe