GOYANG, South Korea, April 26 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says the two Koreas “shouldn’t go back to square one and not denuclearize,” as in the past, and that he is willing to visit the South’s presidential office any time, if he is invited.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, both expressed their hope that their first summit meeting wouldn’t be their last.
Before their official talks began about 10:30 a.m.,at the Peace House building on South Korea’s side of Panmunjom border village, the two leaders exchanged pleasantries as they sat across from each other.
Kim said he had many thoughts as he walked the 200 meters from the building of Panmungak on the North’s side of the Military Demarcation Line to meet Moon, according to Seoul’s senior presidential secretary for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan.
The North Korean leader recounted there had been many agreements between the two sides in the past but they were useless as they were not executed.
“I hope we meet regularly so that the past 11 years aren’t a lost period of time,” Kim said.
He told Moon he felt their meeting was at the “starting line” of a new chapter in history, headed for peace and abundance on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim expressed hope that he and Moon would discuss issues of mutual concerns by “putting them in the open.”
“I came with the heart to hold good talks with President Moon Jae-in and produce good results,” he added, saying he hopes their discussions will be full of “sincerity and honesty.”
Moon responded that Kim’s walk across the border between the South and North had turned the landmark of division into a symbol of peace.
He also expressed hope that they would hold further meetings, beginning in Panmunjom but stretching out to all four corners of the Korean Peninsula to “Pyongyang and Seoul, Jeju Island and also Mt. Paektu.”
Friday marked the first time a North Korean leader had crossed the MDL since the 1950-53 Korean War. It is the first time a summit has been held on the Southern side of the border.
In a surprise move, Kim invited Moon to step onto the Northern side as well, before they crossed over for about ten seconds, hand-in-hand.
The two leaders were greeted by South Korea’s 300-member honor guard, on their way to the official welcoming ceremony.
Moon is said to have told Kim that he could see the honor guard ceremony on a bigger scale if he is to visit Seoul’s presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.
Kim replied that he is willing to go anytime, if he is invited, according to the presidential secretary.
Moon and Kim’s two-part discussions are expected to focus on the denuclearization and peace settlement of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
The United States welcomed the historic meeting, in a statement issued by the White House:
“On the occasion of Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we wish the Korean people well. We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.”
The summit is expected to lay the groundwork for denuclearization talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in the coming weeks.
Trump has said the meeting is likely to occur in late-May or early June.
“The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, 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,” the White House statement said.