The leaders of North and South Korea made bold pledges on Friday to work toward a “common goal” of denuclearising their peninsula and formally ending the Korean War by the end of this year, following a historic day of talks on the border that has divided them for almost seven decades.
It was a day marked by an astonishing level of congeniality between the two, including a warm embrace at the signing of the “Panmunjeom Declaration,” named after the truce village in the Demilitarised Zone where it was forged.
It was, however, short on details as to what “denuclearisation” means for each of them.
Still, the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spent so much time together – and came up with a joint statement that even includes the word “denuclearisation” – marked a surprising development after a year of threats and missile launches that brought the spectre of war back to the Korean Peninsula.
“This provides the political space for Trump to have his own summit with Kim,” said Duyeon Kim, a visiting fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul. “Whether or not Kim Jong Un means it is a completely different story.”
The warmth of the meeting and the positive, if vague, signals now set the stage for Kim to meet with US President Donald Trump at the end of May or early June. Trump has said he will only go to the talks if they promise to be “fruitful,” a bar that likely was met with Friday’s meetings.
“After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place,” the American president tweeted early on Friday morning (Saturday NZT) in Washington. “Good things are happening, but only time will tell!”