North Korea on Saturday hailed its summit
with the South as a "historic meeting" that
paved the way for the start of a new era,
after the two leaders pledged to pursue
denuclearisation and a permanent peace.
The official KCNA news agency carried the
text of the leaders' Panmunjom Declaration
in full and said the encounter opened the
way "for national reconciliation and unity,
peace and prosperity".
In the document, North Korean leader Kim
Jong Un and the South's President Moon
Jae-in "confirmed the common goal of
realising, through complete denuclearisation,
a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula".
But the phrase is a diplomatic euphemism
open to interpretation on both sides.
Pyongyang has long wanted to see an end to
the US military presence and nuclear
umbrella over the South, but it invaded its
neighbour in 1950 and is the only one of the
two Koreas to possess nuclear weapons.
AFP / Jonathan WALTER
Analysts warn that previous displays of
inter-Korean affection and pledges by the
North ultimately came to naught.
For years, Pyongyang insisted it would never
give up the "treasured sword" of its nuclear
arsenal, which it says it needs to defend
itself against a possible US invasion.
But it has offered to put it up for
negotiation in exchange for security
guarantees, according to Seoul -- although
Kim made no public reference to doing so at
Friday's spectacular summit.
In a separate report, KCNA said the two
leaders had a "candid and open-hearted
exchange of views" on issues including
"ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and
the denuclearisation of the peninsula".
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece
of the North's ruling Workers' Party,
devoted the first four of its six pages to
the event, carrying a total of 60 photos, 15
of them on page one.
State television broadcast several minutes
of footage from the meeting, including the
leaders' embrace, but with a voiceover
throughout, and deployed veteran newsreader
Ri Chun Hee to read out the declaration.
Yang Moo-jin of the University of North
Korean Studies said the breadth of coverage
was a signal the North was "sincere in its
"It is also another signal to Washington in
the lead up to the US-North Korea summit
that the ball is in your court now," he told
- 'For the people' -
When Kim stepped over the military
demarcation line that divides the peninsula
he became the first North Korean leader to
set foot in the South since the Korean War
hostilities ceased in 1953 with an armistice
rather than a peace treaty.
Korea Summit Press Pool/AFP / -, -, -, -, -
Images of the two leaders were beamed onto
the facade of Peace House where the talks
took place, during a closing ceremony at the
end of their inter-Korea summit
He then persuaded Moon to step into the
North -- a fact reported by KCNA on Saturday
-- and the two leaders shared a day of
smiles, intimate moments, and a
half-hour-long one-on-one conversation.
The North has made rapid progress in its
weapons programmes under Kim, detonating its
sixth and most powerful nuclear test last
year and launching missiles capable of
reaching the US mainland, in moves that
triggered increasingly strict UN Security
Council sanctions against the regime.
Kim and US President Donald Trump traded
personal insults and threats of war, sending
tensions soaring before Moon seized on the
Winter Olympics to broker dialogue,
beginning a dizzying whirl of diplomacy that
led to Friday's meeting in the Demilitarized
Analysts and diplomats say that a
combination of factors were behind
Pyongyang's change of heart, including
feeling that it was in a position to
negotiate from strength, the looming impact
of sanctions, and fear of potential US
But KCNA gave Kim the credit.
AFP / GREG BAKER
South Korea's press has given a cautious
welcome to the landmark summit
"The historic meeting at Panmunjom came
to be realised thanks to the supreme
leader's ardent love for the people and will
for self-determination" independent of
outside influence, it said.
Washington is pressing Pyongyang to give up
its weapons in a complete, verifiable and
irreversible way, and analysts say that
meaningful progress will depend on the
outcome of Kim's much-anticipated summit
with Trump in the coming weeks.
Trump said Saturday that "things are going
very well" after talking with Moon about the
upcoming eagerly-awaited summit.
"Just had a long and very good talk with
President Moon of South Korea. Things are
going very well, time and location of
meeting with North Korea is being set,"
Trump wrote on Twitter.
- Peace treaty -
In the declaration document, the two Korean
leaders pledged to seek a peace treaty this
year to formally declare the Korean War
over, 65 years after hostilities ceased.
They will seek a meeting with the US and
possibly China -- both of them signatories
to the 1953 ceasefire -- "with a view to
declaring an end to the war, turning the
armistice into a peace treaty, and
establishing a permanent and solid peace
But agreeing a treaty to formally close the
conflict will be complicated -- both Seoul
and Pyongyang claim sovereignty over the
whole Korean peninsula.
The declaration "will lead to an all-out and
epoch-making progress in inter-Korean
relations", KCNA said, and "relink the
cut-off national blood lines" and "advance
the future of co-prosperity and
Pyongyang regularly insists on the
importance of reunifying the two Koreas, but
opinions are divided in the democratic and
prosperous South, where younger citizens
have spent much of their adult lives being
threatened by the North, and fear the costs
and consequences of combining the countries.