September 21, 2018 10:35
President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un voiced hopes that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Pyongyang and that a second U.S.-North Korea summit can take place soon.
Moon was briefing reporters at a press center in Seoul after returning from his three-day visit to North Korea. "North Korea asked us to mediate in talks with the U.S.," he added.
Kim "repeatedly voiced his strong desire for denuclearization," Moon said. "He expressed hope of achieving complete denuclearization in the near future if possible and focusing on economic development."
He also said that he and Kim discussed matters that were not included in their written agreements. "I plan to deliver the details to President [Donald] Trump when I visit the U.S." next week, he said. Moon said he aims to announce a formal end to the Korean War within this year. "I will discuss that again when I meet with President Trump."
The president defended a military agreement with North Korea to reduce armaments along the border. "If the military agreement is implemented successfully, we could move on to working to downsize more weapons like long-range artillery aimed at our capital and troops, which pose mutual threats," he said.
Moon added that Kim agreed to exchanges between lawmakers and provincial administrators from both sides of the border and to return assets owned by Hyundai Group at the North's Mt. Kumgang resort that were seized by the North in retaliation against the South's decision to halt package tours to the scenic resort after a North Korean soldier killed a South Korean tourist in 2008.
A buffer zone is to be set up in the West Sea around the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas drawn up unilaterally by the U.S. at the end of the Korean War.
North and South Korea will refrain from engaging in military maneuvers in the buffer zone, which Cheong Wa Dae initially said will be 40 km wide on each side.
Choi Jong-kun, the presidential secretary for peace and arms control, told reporters in Pyongyang that the buffer zone would be "exactly 40 km wide in the North and 40 km on our side." But in fact the buffer zone the two sides agreed will be 135 km wide with the South yielding 35 km to the North.
A military source said the delineation appears to have been based on respective zones to be included rather than on the distance from the maritime border.
Military experts voiced concerns that the inclusion of South Korea's Deokjeok Island in the buffer zone could create a fatal weakness for the South's Navy in preparing for a possible North Korean attack.
A Defense Ministry official said Cheong Wa Dae appears to have announced the incorrect dimensions of the buffer zone, "because it can't afford to be seen as having given up the NLL just before Chuseok," the country's biggest holiday.
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