Hopes for peace after North Korea’s Kim Jong-un agrees to shut missile site, visit Seoul
US President Donald Trump welcomes developments as ‘very exciting’
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un agreed to dismantle his main nuclear complex if the United States takes unspecified measures, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said after a landmark meeting in Pyongyang.
The pledge was made Wednesday in a joint declaration and press conference by the two leaders after a summit at the Paekhwawon official guest house on the outskirts of the North Korean capital.
Moon is on a three-day trip to North Korea for his third summit with Kim this year, hoping to reboot stalled denuclearisation talks between his host and the United States.
“The South and the North shared the view that the Korean peninsula should be a region without nuclear weapons nor nuclear threats, and have agreed to make practical progress,” according to the document called the “September Pyongyang Declaration”.
Moon said Kim agreed to permanently dismantle a missile engine test site and a launch pad in Tongchang-ri in the presence of international experts as a specific step toward denuclearisation.
Moon also said the North agreed to permanently dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States took “corresponding measures”.
In May, North Korea dismantled Punggye-ri, its only known nuclear test site.
Kim said: “We agreed to make active efforts to turn the Korean peninsula into the land of peace without nuclear weapons or nuclear threats”.
The North Korean leader also to promised to visit Seoul “in the near future”, according to a joint statement.
A Seoul visit by Kim would be the first by a North Korean leader since the peninsula was divided decades ago.
The joint statement also said the two Koreas agreed to seek to obtain the rights to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.
In a tweet, US President Donald Trump welcomed developments on the Korean peninsula as “very exciting”.
“Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts,” Trump said.
“In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing.”
Moon’s visit to Pyongyang comes as Kim’s denuclearisation talks with Trump remain deadlocked amid doubts over whether North Korea really intends to abandon its nuclear arsenal.
At the June 12 summit, Kim promised Trump that he would bring about “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in return for security guarantees from Washington.
But the United States has criticised the North for not doing enough to fulfil the pledge.
The declaration also included ways to end hostility on the Korean peninsula and measures to improve bilateral relations.
“An inter-Korean joint military committee will be activated shortly to avoid accidental military collision … the two Koreas have agreed to enhance exchanges and cooperation” the declaration added.
South Korea’s Defence Minister Song Young-moo and his North Korean counterpart No Kwang-chol, agreed to establish buffer zones along land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes.
The Koreas agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the demilitarised zone by December with the aim of removing them eventually.
Both sides also agreed to no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones.
Gist of the joint declaration
● Take more denuclearisation measures such as permanently scrapping his country’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding steps.
● To visit Seoul “in the near future”.
● Permanently close the Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and missile launch facility in the presence of foreign experts.
North and South Korea agree:
● Operate a joint military committee to discuss how to avoid conflicts.
● Begin work on cross-border railway and road links by the year’s end.
● Normalise joint industrial park in Kaesong and Mount Kumgang tourism programmes when conditions are met.
● Cooperate in bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.
Additional reporting by Reuters, Kyodo and Agence France-Presse