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S. Korean president says Trump-Kim border meeting amounted to end of hostilities

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands across the line separating North and South Korea on Sunday, June 30, 2019.

VIA KCNA

By KIM GAMEL AND YOO KYONG CHANG | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 2, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea — The impromptu border summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amounted to a de facto end of hostilities, South Korea’s president said Tuesday, seeking to counter skepticism that the highly symbolic meeting lacked substance.

President Moon Jae-in, who traveled to the truce village of Panmunjom with Trump on Sunday, also expressed confidence the meeting would lay the foundation for renewed negotiations aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

He acknowledged that no document was signed but said that Trump and Kim had declared the “beginning of the end of hostile relations and a new era of peace by their actions.”

The image of Trump stepping across the concrete berm that delineates the Military Demarcation Line between the iconic blue buildings at the Joint Security Area was historic. He is the first sitting U.S. president to step onto North Korean territory.

Kim and Trump also agreed to resume nuclear talks, which stalled after the leaders failed to reach agreement on sanctions relief and other issues during their second summit in Vietnam in late February. But the sides gave no indication about how they may overcome the gaps. Satellite images suggest the North’s nuclear and missile programs remain intact.

The Trump administration said another round of working-level talks led by the main U.S. envoy to the North, Stephen Biegun, would likely begin this month.

“It was great being with Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea this weekend. We had a great meeting, he looked really well and very healthy — I look forward to seeing him again soon,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets on Monday. “In the meantime, our teams will be meeting to work on some solutions to very long term and persistent problems. No rush, but I am sure we will ultimately get there!”

Moon, the son of North Korean refugees who has vowed never to allow another war on the divided peninsula, also shook hands and chatted with Kim on Sunday, although he did not attend the subsequent summit that lasted about 50 minutes.

He said he told Trump during their tour of the Demilitarized Zone that half of South Korea’s population of more than 50 million and more than 100,000 Americans live in the Seoul area, which is just 35 miles south of the border.

“The consistent use of imagination will be needed in order to resolve a truly tough historical task – the complete denuclearization and a lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said during a Cabinet meeting.

The United States and South Korea have been allies since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty. Some 28,500 American troops are stationed in the South.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

chang.kyong@stripes.com
 

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