Donald Trump celebrated the end to the decades-long Korean War this morning and agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula that will pave the way for him to meet face-to-face with Kim Jong-un.
Trump and Kim, the North Korean dictator, have spent the last year trading threats and insults as Pyongyang made rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting America.
But amid a softening of relations between Pyongyang and Seoul, the two men have reached an agreement to meet in weeks to discuss nuclear disarmament.
Their dramatic meeting that resulted in an end to the decades long Korean War comes weeks before Kim Jong-un (left) is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre, right, next to his suster Kim Yo Jong) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (centre, left) had ‘serious, frank’ discussions on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a permanent peace in their first summit session on Friday
US President Donald Trump has cautiously praised today’s historic Korea meeting in a tweet this morning
Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in the South this morning during talks in which he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to a ‘complete denuclearization’ during the talks.
In tweets on Friday morning Trump acknowledged the progress even as he cast doubt over how long positive diplomacy may last.
‘After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!’ Trump wrote this morning.
In a second message, he added: ‘KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!’
Trump has said in recent days that he will meet with Kim ‘very soon’ and probably by the beginning of June.
‘It could be that I walk out quickly, with respect,’ he said in a Thursday morning update. ‘But it could be that the meeting doesn’t even take place, who knows.’
The White House released photos yesterday of former CIA director Mike Pompeo —now Trump’s secretary of state — meeting with Kim during a clandestine visit to Pyongyang earlier this month.
‘He wasn’t supposed to meet with Kim Jong-un, but he did,’ Trump revealed on Fox & Friends. ‘We have incredible pictures of the two talking and meeting, which I’d love to release if we can, I’ll do that,’ the president had said.
Eight hours later, the White House published photos of Pompeo and Kim shaking hands, their countenance pleasant without extending into a grin.
On Tuesday Trump said that North Korea’s tyrant ‘has been very open, and I think very honorable’ in the lead-up to nuclear talks.
He clarified later, after he came under scrutiny for the remark, that he meant, ‘I hope that we will be able to deal in a very open and honorable fashion with North Korea. A lot is happening. And I think it’s going to be very positive.’
China earlier led global reaction to the ‘historic’ Korean summit today with a quote from a poem that reads ‘smiling, we meet again’.
Beijing – North Korea’s sole major ally – said it hoped for a ‘journey of long-term stability on the peninsula’.
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: ‘We applaud the Korean leaders’ historic step and appreciate their political decisions and courage.
‘We hope and look forward to them taking this opportunity to further open a new journey of long-term stability on the peninsula.’
She also cited a poem that reads: ‘We remain brothers after all the vicissitudes; let’s forgo our old grudges, smiling we meet again.’
China is a North Korean ally but it has supported a series of United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile tests. Beijing has pressed for dialogue to peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.
Russia said the summit was ‘very positive news’, saying direct dialogue on the divided peninsula was promising.
‘This is very positive news,’ President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. ‘Today we see that this direct dialogue has taken place (and) it has certain prospects,’ he said.
The dictator, wearing his trademark black Mao suit, and President Moon, in a navy jacket, hold hands as they walk side-by-side across the demarcation line inside the truce village of Panmunjom at the start of Friday’s summit
Kim and Moon strode past an honor guard and military band, before Moon introduced Kim to South Korean government officials
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council said the messages coming from the talks could serve as a ‘positive memento to all’, and ‘that the impossible can become possible, and that it depends entirely on the good will and courage of individual people.’
Earlier, the White House said in a statement that it is ‘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.’
Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as the North made rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States.
But Kim is now due to meet the US President to discuss denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is welcoming the summit but says he doesn’t expect any great breakthrough that might curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Johnson told reporters at NATO headquarters Friday, ‘I am very encouraged by what’s happening.’
He says: ‘I don’t think that anybody looking at the history of North Korea’s plans to develop a nuclear weapon would want to be over-optimistic at this point. But it is clearly good news that the two leaders are meeting. Absolutely.’
The leaders talked unaccompanied on a nearby bridge after their lunch break and they are later expected to resume their summit
The two sides were writing up a joint statement and the two leaders would announce it together when it was finished, the official, Yoon Young-chan, told a briefing
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he welcomed the summit as a positive step and he strongly expected Pyongyang to take concrete steps towards to carry out its promises.
Japan would stay in close contact with the United States and South Korea over North Korea, Abe said, adding that Japan was ‘absolutely not’ being left out of the denuclearisation process.
Meanwhile, a Japanese Cabinet official says his government and the families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1980s and 1990s are closely watching the inter-Korean summit in hopes the two leaders discuss the issue.
Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s minister for the abduction issue, says he hopes progress will be made at an upcoming summit that Kim is expected to hold with President Donald Trump.
Tokyo has asked Seoul and Washington to press Kim to resolve the decades-old problem.
Pyongyang has acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese decades ago. Five of them returned to Japan in 2002. Pyongyang says the eight others have died, but Japan believes they could be alive.
Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.
Kim and Trump are expected to meet in late May or June, with Trump saying on Thursday he was considering several possible dates and venues.
The latest Korean summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.