Kim Jong Un crosses border into South Korea for historic summit

GOYANG, South Korea, April 27 (UPI) — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has walked across the border to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the first inter-Korean summit in more than 11 years.

The leaders met at 9:30 a.m. local time at the Military Demarcation Line, which divides the two Koreas within the Panmunjom border village.

Standing in front of the South’s Freedom House that directly faces the MDL, Moon waited for Kim to appear across the border, through the doors of the North’s Panmungak building, less than 300 feet away.

This marks the first time a North Korean leader crossed the MDL since the 1950-53 Korean War, and the first time a summit is held on the southern side of the border.

Both previous South-North summits, in 2000 and 2007, took place in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

To mark the rare occasion, two South Korean schoolchildren greeted Kim, presenting him with flowers.

South Korea’s 300-soldier honor guard was assigned to greet the two Korean leaders, as they walk into the Freedom House for an official welcoming ceremony.

When former President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun visited Pyongyang for their summits, they also reviewed the honor guard consisting of members of the North Korean army, navy and air force, according to the Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps.

Moon and Kim’s two-part summit talks begin at 10:30 a.m., at the Peace House conference room on South’s side of Panmunjom, with a lunch and a short interval scheduled in between.

Kim will briefly return to the northern side of the border during the break.

Before the afternoon session resumes, Moon and Kim are set to hold a planting ceremony of a pine tree, which symbolizes peace and prosperity. They will also take a stroll along the MDL.

The leaders are expected to reach and declare an agreement before they head to an official welcoming banquet at 6:30 p.m.

The focus of the inter-Korean summit is denuclearization, peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula, as well as improving inter-Korean relations.

Experts anticipate a mention of North Korea’s commitment or stance on denuclearization in the joint statement between the two leaders, before what’s expected to be a tough negotiation between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump on the terms of dismantling its nukes in the coming weeks.

It is also expected the two Koreas will strike up a deal on ending war or declaring peace between them, to pave the way for the “peaceful co-existence” and permanent settlement of peace on the Peninsula.