North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday to discuss denuclearization and the pursuit of peace on the peninsula.
The meeting, which took place just south of the DMZ, was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders and was the first time a North Korean leader has set foot in South Korea since the fighting ended in 1953.
Friday’s summit ended with the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration, which states there “will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula” and lays the foundation for talks with the US and China about transforming the 1953 armistice into a peace treaty.
“Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any longer,” read the joint statement.
The document mentions “denuclearization” as a future goal, but puts emphasis on reducing tensions and building better ties. The two countries agreed to establish a joint liaison office in the North, participate together in international sporting events, and resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
Kim and Moon said they would hold military talks in May and seek a “phased disarmament.” The two leaders will hold another high-level meeting in June, and Moon made plans to visit Pyongyang in the fall. Both sides also agreed to silence the loudspeakers currently blasting propaganda at the border.
“This is as much as you’re going to get at the inter-Korean level,” says Seoul professor John Delury. “You have to leave something for Donald Trump to do.”
The specifics on denuclearization will likely be the focus of Kim’s upcoming meeting with Trump, who celebrated the summit by tweeting “KOREAN WAR TO END!” early Friday morning.
“This is a great start and should be cause for cautious optimism,” says Patrick McEachern, a Wilson Center fellow who worked on North Korea in the State Department. “The public conversation should now shift from speculation on whether North Korea would consider denuclearization to how South Korea and the United States can advance this denuclearization pledge in concrete steps.”
Others are more skeptical about Kim’s promises, and have pointed to the collapse of past deals due to disagreements on weapons tests, inspections, and disputes over economic aid.