SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The leaders of North and South Korea pledged at their historic summit on Friday to work for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, but U.S. President Donald Trump said he would maintain pressure on Pyongyang ahead of his own unprecedented meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
The day produced dramatic images and emotions for Koreans and a sweeping declaration, but was short on specific commitments and failed to clear up key questions about Pyongyang’s intentions over its nuclear arsenal ahead of the U.S.-North Korean summit expected in coming weeks.
Holding the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade – an event marked by smiles, handshakes and embraces – South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed to work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean War and establish a permanent peace agreement.
Trump, who has raised expectations that his meeting with Kim will deliver tangible results, said he looked forward to the encounter and expressed hope it would be productive.
But he added: “We will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations. Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearization occurs.”
He was speaking at a joint White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The declaration from the Moon-Kim meeting included promises to pursue phased arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States.
“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the two sides said.
The summit was held at the village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone at the border that has divided the Koreas for more than six decades.
But even as the Koreas agreed on a common goal of a “nuclear-free” peninsula, they stopped short of spelling out exactly what that meant or how it might come about.
The Trump administration defines “denuclearization” as Kim giving up his nuclear weapons, something he has been unwilling to do. North Korea has historically demanded the United States withdraw its troops and remove its “nuclear umbrella” of support for the South.
(Graphic: Korea: a land divided – tmsnrt.rs/2KdXMcS)
(Graphic: A new dawn – tmsnrt.rs/2t8i6no)
Reporting by the Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps Christine Kim and Josh Smith and by Roberta Rampton in WASHINGTON; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL and David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Susan Heavey, Eric Beech and Jeff Mason in WASHINGTON; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel and Frances Kerry