After the second and final round of closed-door talks, the leaders emerged again and sat together to sign a joint “Panmunjom Declaration” agreeing to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” and a formal end to the war.
Officially dubbed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, Unification of the Korean Peninsula, the agreement calls for both sides:
- To completely cease all hostile acts s on land, sea, air
- To transform the Demilitarized Zone into a “peace zone”
- To stop propaganda broadcasts, leafleting starting May 1
- Area near the western northern limit line to be turned into a maritime peace zone to prevent sudden naval clashes
- To hold military talks in May
After the signing ceremony both men walked outside together and gave remarks at side-by-side podiums. Moon said new offices would be established in both North and South Korea to facilitate economic cooperation, and a new liaison office in the Northern border city of Kaesong, where both sides would continue to hold meetings on denuclearization. Kaesong, a joint industrial complex that had workers from both sides of the border, was shuttered several years ago as tensions mounted anew.
Kim thanked Moon for hosting the summit, calling him “brother,” and saying they had both realized “we cannot be separated. We are one nation.”
Moon has agreed to visit North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang this autumn for another round of talks.
The White House said in a statement prior to the summit that it was “hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. … (and) looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”
Moon, a liberal whose election last year ended a decade of conservative rule in Seoul, will be looking to make some headway on the North’s nuclear program in advance of a planned summit in several weeks between Kim and Mr. Trump.
Kim, the third member of his family to rule his nation with absolute power, is eager, both in this meeting and in the Trump talks, to discuss the nearly 30,000 heavily armed U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and the lack of a formal peace treaty ending the Korea War – two factors, the North says, that make nuclear weapons necessary.
North Korea may also be looking to use the talks with Moon to set up the Trump summit, which it may see as a way to legitimize its declared status as a nuclear power.
One possible outcome Friday, aside from a rise in general goodwill between the countries, could be a proposal for a North Korean freeze of its weapons ahead of later denuclearization.
Seoul and Washington will be pushing for any freeze to be accompanied by rigorous and unfettered outside inspections of the North’s nuclear facilities, since past deals have crumbled because of North Korea’s unwillingness to open up to snooping foreigners.
South Korea has acknowledged that the most difficult sticking point between the Koreas has been North Korea’s level of denuclearization commitment. Kim has reportedly said that he wouldn’t need nuclear weapons if his government’s security could be guaranteed and external threats were removed.
Whatever the Koreas announce Friday, the spectacle of Kim being feted on South Korean soil was striking.
Kim and Moon enjoyed each other’s company in the jointly controlled village of Panmunjom near the spot where a defecting North Korean soldier fled south last year in a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades, and not too far where North Korean soldiers axe-murdered two U.S. soldiers in 1976.