Seoul expects Korea summit to produce signed agreement

GOYANG, April 26 (UPI) — The leaders of South and North Korea will announce and sign a joint agreement after their historic summit talks on Friday at the border village of Panmunjom, a Seoul presidential official said.

A day ahead of the summit, South Korea’s chief presidential secretary Im Jong-seok briefed reporters at the summit press center on the details of the rare inter-Korean talks, the first to take place in 11 years.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to focus on the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as establishing peace between the two Koreas, Im said.

The two leaders will hold two rounds of summit talks in the morning and in the afternoon, at the Peace House conference building on the South Korean side, before signing and declaring their joint agreement.

“We hope to call this the Panmunjom Declaration,” Im said. “If the clear intent for denuclearization is stipulated, if [the two leaders] can confirm the [intent for] complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, this summit would be a success and pave the way for the U.S.-North Korea summit.”

However, he added it was yet difficult to determine to what extent the two leaders will agree on denuclearization.

“It is especially tricky as the issue isn’t something the South-North summit can wrap up,” Im said.

Seoul officials have said the inter-Korean summit is likely to provide the initial framework for the further discussion on denuclearizing the North, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim in the coming weeks.

Ahead of their talks, scheduled to at 10:30 a.m. Korea time, Moon and Kim will meet an hour earlier at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas.

“Chairman Kim will walk across the MDL between buildings T2 and T3 that are used as the meeting rooms of the Military Armistice Commission,” Im said.

It will mark the first time a North Korean leader has crossed the border since the 1950-53 Korean War and also the first time an inter-Korean summit has taken place on South Korea’s side.

The past two summits in 2000 and 2007 were both held in Pyongyang.

South Korea’s guard of honor will greet the leaders as they walk to the ceremony area around 9:40 a.m., before they enter the Peace House.

Moon and Kim are expected to hold a photo session and a reception meeting before holding official summit talks starting at 10:30 a.m.

After the morning schedule, they will hold separate lunches and a brief break, during which Kim will cross the border back to the northern side.

The two leaders will resume summit talks in the afternoon, after a tree-planting ceremony and a stroll along the MDL.

“The two leaders will together plant a pine tree, which stands for peace and prosperity, on the MDL, which has symbolized confrontation and division over the past 65 years,” Im said.

Soil from the South Korea’s Mount Halla and North Korea’s Mount Paektu will be used to plant the tree, after which Kim will water the tree with water from the South’s Han River and Moon will pour water from the North’s Daedong River.

At 6:30 p.m., Moon and Kim will take part in a welcoming banquet in the Peace House building, which will also be attended by all officials from both sides.

Moon will be accompanied by Im, national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, intelligence chief Suh Hoon, unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon, defense minister Song Young-moo and foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha.

Nine top-ranking North Korean officials will accompany Kim, including his sister Kim Yo Jong; the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam; ruling Workers’ Party Vice Chairmen Kim Yong Chol, Ri Su Yong, and Choe Hwi, army chief Ri Myong-su; defense chief Pak Yong-sik; foreign minister Ri Yong Ho; and unification head Ri Son-gwon.

A farewell ceremony will take place before the inter-Korean meeting comes to an end.

Im confirmed that there were no plans to extend the summit schedule.