President Donald Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for agreeing to further steps toward giving up his nuclear weapons, signaling that stalled negotiations might get back on track despite the lack of concrete details.
In a pair of late-night tweets, Trump described Kim’s moves to discuss allowing nuclear inspectors, in addition to dismantling a missile test site and putting in a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics with South Korea, as “Very exciting!” Last month, Trump canceled a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo due to a lack of progress after his landmark summit with Kim in June.
During a second day of meetings between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korea on Wednesday agreed to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear production site if the U.S. takes reciprocal actions. It also said it would dismantle a key missile test site under the watch of international inspectors and take other steps toward denuclearization.
“We agreed to make active efforts to turn the Korean peninsula into the land of peace without nuclear weapons or nuclear threats,” Kim said at a joint briefing with Moon in Pyongyang.
Moon, who invited Kim to visit Seoul later this year, added: “Chairman Kim has clearly shown a way to denuclearize the Korean peninsula today. We have agreed on a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons, without nuclear threats and without a war.”
Even as the summit appeared to open the door for renewed U.S.-North Korea talks, little progress was evident on the major issues dividing the two sides. Kim is pushing for a peace declaration with the U.S. before he takes concrete steps toward getting rid of his nuclear capability, while the Trump administration wants a detailed inventory of his weapons and inspections.
It’s still unclear if North Korea will unveil nuclear production facilities other than Yongbyon, and disclose the location of its mobile launchers that can fire intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“There are a number of positive steps that increase trust in Korea,” said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. “With regards to denuclearization, I don’t think there’s been much change. North Korea has been clear that they will not give up their nuclear weapons -- nothing has changed in this joint statement.”
Even so, Moon declared that the complete denuclearization of the peninsula is “not far” and the two nations would “collaborate closely with the U.S. and the international community for
Other key points in the agreement included:
- Both countries will start connecting existing railways and roads this year, Moon said.
- Both countries decided to open a permanent meeting place for families long separated by the border in the near future, Moon said. The two countries will first establish an avenue for video greetings and letters to be sent between separated families.
- The two countries are planning a bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics, and will compete as one team at the 2020 Games in neighboring Tokyo and other unspecified competitions.
- The two countries also agreed to “normalize” the Gaeseong complex and Kumgang tourism project, and set up a special co-economic zone on the West Sea, if conditions allow.
- The countries agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts each from the demilitarized zone, as well as joint excavation of war remains and a “buffer zone” to stop hostile acts.
Moon is the first South Korean leader to visit Pyongyang in 11 years. He said his “heart is very full today.”
“I feel overwhelmed that I can share these words today,” Moon said. “South and North Korea for the first time agreed on measures for denuclearization. It is a very meaningful achievement.”
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