Leaders of 2 Koreas in Surprise Summit at Border

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    May 28, 2018 09:35

    President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for a second time on Saturday afternoon on the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom.

    Moon briefed reporters on Sunday about the meeting, which lasted for about two hours starting at 3 p.m., saying the two "agreed the June 12 North Korea-U.S. summit must be successfully held." Moon said Kim expressed his commitment to a "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

    Moon also said he and Kim "reconfirmed the need for the speedy implementation" of their joint declaration after the first summit on April 27 and "will hold high-level talks on June 1."

    President Moon Jae-in (left) takes a question from reporters in a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sunday. /Newsis

    The government did not announce that the summit had taken place until nearly two hours after it finished. The meeting apparently took place at Kim's request. Kim "on Friday afternoon requested a meeting without formalities and I gladly accepted," Moon said.

    Kim turned to Moon for help after U.S. President Donald Trump last week abruptly canceled their planned summit, irked by belligerent statements from North Korea's vice foreign minister.

    "I wish to place a great meaning on the latest talks that were held as if they were an ordinary event between friends," Moon said, but apologized for failing to inform the public in advance.

    Amid the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea, South Korean officials secretly visited Pyongyang while Moon was in Washington for a summit with Trump last week. National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon apparently met his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-chol, the director of the United Front Department on Friday to arrange the ad-hoc summit.

    President Moon Jae-in (right) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walk out after a summit in the truce village of Panmunjom on Saturday. /Newsis

    Secrecy was tight, and protocol was mostly skipped because the summit was so hastily arranged. Moon was driven to the North Korean side in a silver Mercedes used by first lady Kim Jung-sook to avoid attracting attention. His security detail was reduced to a bare minimum.

    The official [North] Korean News Agency also said Kim stressed his commitment to holding the summit with Trump.

    Moon declined to comment whether Kim pledged to denuclearize in the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" manner the U.S. is insisting on but added, "I believe whether the June 12 North Korea-U.S. summit will be disrupted or succeed depends on how successfully [the two sides] complete their working-level negotiations."

    He said Kim agreed that such talks are needed to iron out differences and expressed hope that a successful U.S.-North Korea summit would lead to the three sides signing a ceasefire agreement officially ending the Korean War.

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