|South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold up the signed agreement of the Pyongyang Declaration after holding the second round of the inter-Korean summit on Wednesday. (Joint Press Corp.)|
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday pledged to visit Seoul and reaffirmed commitment to giving up his country’s nuclear program, vowing to take additional steps for denuclearization, with conditions.
The Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018 signed by the two leaders after their second round of summit talks at Paekhwawon Guest House stated that North Korea would permanently dismantle its missile engine test site and missile launch pad in Dongchangri under the observation of experts from related countries.
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon from the South and the Vice Chairman of North Korea‘s ruling Workers’ Party Kim Yong-chul were in attendance at Wednesday‘s closed door meeting.
The declaration also stated that the North is willing to take additional steps, such as permanent dismantling of the Yongbyun nuclear facility, if the US takes reciprocal measures in the spirit of the June 12 declaration between the US and North Korea.
The two leaders vowed to continue working with the US and the international community to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
Noting that Moon will meet with US President Donald Trump Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Yoon Young-chan, Blue House secretary for public communication, said that the South Korean leader will work closely with the US for subsequent steps in the denuclearization process.
Trump welcomed the results in a Twitter message, noting that Kim has agreed to allow “nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.” It is unclear, however, what Trump meant by “nuclear inspection” as the term was not included in the Pyongyang Declaration.
One of South Korea’s main goals entering the summit had been to spur the stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
“We believe that the talks between North Korea and the US could be accelerated based on the results of this summit, and we also hope that the talks will be held as soon as possible,” said National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong. He added that a North Korean leader publicly expressing his intent to permanently dismantle a symbolic facility like Yongbyun has a significant meaning.
In addition, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and his counterpart No Kwang-chul signed a military agreement that centers on preventing border conflicts. South Korean presidential office called it “a de facto non-aggression pact,” which includes establising a buffer zone and a no-fly zone in the Demilitarized Zone.
“We’ve adopted a military agreement to end the decades of desperate, tragic history of hostility (between the Koreas), and pledged to make Joseon (Korean) peninsula a land of peace without nuclear weapons or nuclear threats,” said North Korea’s Kim after signing the Pyongyang Declaration.
He went on to say that he had pledged to visit Seoul “in the near future.” Moon elaborated by saying that this would take place within the year, barring unforeseen developments.
No North Korean leader has ever visited Seoul, though there had been talk of a visit by Kim’s father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in 2000.
The two sides also agreed to make a joint bid for the 2032 Summer Games, along with joint participation in international sporting events.
The Pyongyang Declaration also includes a Pyongyang art troupe’s performance in Seoul in October.
South and North Korea pledged to work on measures for “balanced development” of the economies, namely stepping up cross-border exchanges and economic cooperation.
They agreed to kick off joint projects to connect railways and roads across the border within the year, to resume Kumgangsan tours and to reopen the Kaesong industrial park, under the “right conditions,” mindful of economic sanctions in place against North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The Park Geun-hye administration shut down the Kaesong complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong in February 2016, as a punitive action against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile provocations. The Kumgangsan tours were suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean soldier.
Humanitarian efforts for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War were also included in the statement, with the Koreas agreeing to open a permanent facility on Kumgangsan for family reunions in the near future. Other measures include holding video-based reunions and the exchange of video messages between separated family members.
Among other agreements included in the Pyongyang Declaration are: working to create special economic zones; cross-border cooperation for preservation of the natural habitat in the North; and cooperation in the medical field for prevention and containment of infectious diseases.
Moon wraps up his three-day trip to the North on Thursday with a visit to Paektusan with Kim Jong-un.
By Yoon Min-sik and Joint Press Corps