The Latest: Kim refers to N. Korean defectors during summit

Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un
Korea Summit Press Pool via AP

GOYANG, South Korea (AP) — The latest on the summit between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a reference to North Koreans who escaped from the country while discussing prospects of peace between the rivals in his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan says Kim mentioned the defectors among people who have high expectations for the summit to heal scars and improve relations between the rivals.

Yoon quoted Kim as saying: “We should value this opportunity so that the scars between the South and North could be healed.”

Yoon says Kim added: “The border line isn’t that high; it will eventually be erased if a lot of people pass over it.”

North Korea normally expresses anger toward defectors and often accuses South Korea of abducting or enticing its citizens to defect.

The North in 2016 accused the South of abducting 12 North Korean women who had worked at restaurant in China and demanded them to be sent back to the North. That was months before the North called a senior North Korean diplomat who defected to the South as “human scum.”

Around 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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12:45 p.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a reference to a South Korean island targeted by a North Korean artillery attack that killed four in 2010.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s senior spokesman said Kim said the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living under the fear of North Korean artillery attacks and also families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War have high hopes for the inter-Korean talks to help heal past scars.

Moon called for more meetings between the leaders and said he wishes to travel in North Korea to visit Mount Paektu near the country’s border with China. 

Kim said the trip under current conditions would be uncomfortable, but the North would improve its transportation networks should Moon decided to visit. Kim also said the North Korean delegation during their visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February came back impressed by the South’s bullet train services. 

Moon in response said the people of both Koreas would be able to enjoy high-speed train services if relations improve and the countries connect their rail networks across borders.

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12:05 p.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have finished the morning session of their summit at a border truce village.

Television showed bodyguards jogging beside Kim’s black limousine as it rolled back to the northern side of the Panmunjom where Kim and other North Korean officials participating in the summit are expected to have lunch.

The leaders plan to meet again in the afternoon at the southern side of the village for talks Seoul says are aimed at resolving the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons.

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11:45 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has thanked South Korean President Moon Jae-in for greeting him at a “historic place” ahead of their meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

At the historic moment when the two leaders shook hands across the Military Demarcation line that bisects the rivals, Kim said that his heart “keeps throbbing.”

Moon replied to Kim’s thanks by saying that the North Korean leader made a “very courageous decision” to come to the South.

The high-stakes summit is aimed at resolving the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons

The closed-door talks are ongoing.

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11 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given his younger sister a place at the negotiating table for the first North-South Korea summit in more than a decade.

Kim Yo Jong has emerged as the most visible member of Kim Jong Un’s regime after her brother — since she became the first member of the ruling North Korean family to travel to the South in early February for the Olympics.

She was in Kim’s delegation as he walked across the line that divides the two Koreas on Friday morning and took a seat beside him as he started his first round of talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The only other North Korean official present was former intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, the top official in charge of relations with the South.

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10:38 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he’s ready for “heartfelt, sincere and honest” talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on pending issues and that the Koreas must not repeat the past where they were “unable to fulfill our agreements.”

Kim did not make any direct mention of the North Korean nuclear issue in the part of his talks with Moon that were shown on live television. 

Kim also joked that he hoped Moon would enjoy North Korea’s famous cold noodles that will be brought to the banquet after the summit, saying it was difficult to bring the noodles from capital Pyongyang. He then turned to his sister sitting to his left and said “maybe I shouldn’t have said (Pyongyang) was far.”

Moon in response there were high expectations surrounding the inter-Korean summit and that they produce an agreement that would please the people of Koreas and also “every peace-loving person in the world.”

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10:20 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has signed a guestbook with a message wishing for peace between the Koreas as he arrived for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Kim wrote in the guestbook: “New history starts from now, at the historic starting point of an era of peace.” Kim earlier stepped into the southern side of a border truce village of Panmunjom to become the first North Korean leader to set foot into the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The meeting between Kim and Moon is only the third-ever summit between the rivals who remain technically at war.

Seoul says the meeting will be focused on discussing ways for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and establishing a permanent peace regime in the Korean Peninsula.

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10 a.m.

The White House says it is hopeful the summit between the two Korean leaders will achieve progress toward peace.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed over to the southern side of the world’s most heavily armed border Friday morning to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They shook hands and inspected an honor guard before later holding a closed-door discussion about Kim’s nuclear weapons.

The White House said in a statement that it is “hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. … (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.”

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9:30 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made history by crossing over to the southern side of the world’s most heavily armed border to meet rival South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

It’s the first time a member of the Kim dynasty has set foot on southern soil since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and the latest bid to settle the world’s last Cold War standoff.

The overwhelming focus of the summit, the country’s third-ever, will be on North Korea’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Kim’s news agency said earlier Friday that the leader would “open-heartedly” discuss with Moon “all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations.”

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8:20 a.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has left Seoul’s presidential palace for a high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that will kick off a new round of nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.

Moon on Friday briefly stepped out of his black limousine and cheerfully shook hands with hundreds of supporters who waved white South Korean flags and raised banners with messages including “Please Achieve Successful Denuclearization.”

Hundreds of members of the Korean Veterans Association arrived on buses from different parts of the nation hours earlier to send off Moon’s motorcade.

The meeting between Moon and Kim is just the third summit between the rivals since the 1950-53 Korean War.

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7:30 a.m.

North Korea’s state media reports that leader Kim Jong Un has left Pyongyang for the North-South summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

A report by the North’s Korean Central News Agency said Kim would “open-heartedly”’discuss with Moon “all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula.”

The report called the summit on Friday “historic” and noted that it would be held on the south side of the Demilitarized Zone, a first for Kim.

It also said that after the talks Kim will plant a memorial tree with Moon, make public the results of the talks and attend a dinner hosted by Moon before returning to Pyongyang.

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