Koreas agree to hold summit in Pyongyang in Septembers

In initial small steps toward reconciliation, South Korea said on Monday it would remove loudspeakers that blared propaganda across the border, while North Korea said it would shift its clocks to align with its southern neighbour.

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AIWA! We Press — South and North Korea agreed Monday to hold a summit meeting between their leaders in Pyongyang in September, reported Joint Press Corps-Yonhap.
The agreement was made during high-level talks on the northern side of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas. They, however, did not unveil the date of the meeting.

Monday’s high-level talks, taking place on the northern side of the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone, were proposed by the North last week as it lashed out at Washington for pushing ahead with sanctions.

In his opening statement, the North’s chief delegate Ri Son Gwon said: “As the Pyongyang meeting of the leaders of the north and south is being discussed, I think talking about the issue will provide answers to the wishes of the people.”

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in must be a severe disappointment to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Far from fulfilling the dreams of some of the extremists who supported him in the snap election in May, which ended nearly a decade of conservative rule, he prefers to show serious resolve in the face of the North’s refusal to back down from escalating threats.

Using a proverb describing a very intimate friend to refer to inter-Korean ties, Ri added: “We have opened an era where we are advancing hand in hand rather than standing in each other’s way.”

Despite the rapprochement, international sanctions against the North for its nuclear and missile programmes have kept economic cooperation between the two Koreas from taking off, while little progress has been made on the key issue of Pyongyang’s denuclearisation.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, leading the delegation from Seoul, said it was important that the two Koreas keep “the same mind”.

“Many issues will be raised (at the meeting), but I think any problem can be resolved with that mindset,” Cho added.

RAPID RAPPROCHEMENT 

Cho addressed the possibility of Pyongyang raising the issue of sanctions to the South, and said: “We will explain our position to the North.”

READ RELATED: South Korea bans ships that transported NK coal

READ RELATED: Two Koreas start high-level talks to discuss leaders’ summit

The rapid rapprochement between the two neighbours that began this year paved the way for a landmark meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

Cross-border exchanges between the two Koreas have significantly increased since then, with the neighbours planning to hold reunions for war-separated families next week for the first time in three years.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk together at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018.   –  Reuters

But although Trump touted his summit with Kim as a historic breakthrough, the nuclear-armed North has since criticised Washington for its “gangster-like” demands of complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.

Meanwhile the US has urged the international community to maintain tough sanctions on the isolated regime – Seoul has caught three South Korean firms importing coal and iron from the North last year in violation of the measures.

Analysts say Moon could try to act as a mediator between the US and North Korea, having salvaged the Singapore meeting when Trump abruptly cancelled it.

If the third Moon-Kim summit takes place, the two are also expected to focus on hammering out a consensus on officially ending the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

But Harry Harris, the US ambassador to South Korea, said Monday it was “too early” for such a declaration, Yonhap reported.
READ MORE: First concrete steps made after Friday’s North/South summit underway

 

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Crimson Tazvinzwa

TEACHER & MEDIA TRAINER

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