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South Korean President Moon Jae-in says goodbye to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the end of their summit on Friday South Korean President Moon Jae-in says goodbye to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the end of their summit on Friday  (ANSA)

North and South Korea agree to work for peace

Leaders of the two countries, still technically at war with each other, agree to work for denuclearisation, economic cooperation and reunification of families on the divided peninsula

By Alastair Wanklyn

There are new hopes for peace on the Korean Peninsula, after the leaders of North and South agreed to pursue complete denuclearisation and work towards a definitive peace treaty.

The breakthrough came on Friday at a summit on the heavily militarized border between the two countries. It marked the first meeting between the leaders of north and south Korea in over a decade.

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The meeting appeared to go better than planned, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands across the border, and then stepped into each other's territory.

It was the first time for a North Korean leader to visit the South and Kim said he wants to end a history of confrontation.

Statement on denuclearisation

In a joint statement, the leaders said they will work towards getting rid of nuclear weapons, apparently including the arms that North Korea has shown off in nuclear tests and missile launches. They set no timetable for this but said they would call on other nations to help.  

Kim and Moon spent several hours together, and for about 30 minutes talked privately. They spoke of reuniting families separated by the Korean War and resuming economic cooperation. Kim appeared to refer to the poor state of roads in the North, and said his officials envy the South's railways.

Bishops welcome 'miracle' summit

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea welcomed the summit. In a statement prior to the meeting, the bishops said it was "a precious opportunity" that God has given the Korean people in answer to their prayers. For months, the Church in South Korea has been praying every evening for peace. Because of that, the bishops said, "something miraculous is happening in this land."

As recently as last year, the summit seemed all but impossible, when Pyongyang and the President of the United States taunted each other with nuclear threats. Then, in January, Kim said he was open to talks. Within weeks, Korean athletes marched under one flag at the Winter Olympics.

Friday's summit was closely watched in part because U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet Kim by early summer. If that takes place, observers say it will mark a sharp rehabilitation for North Korea in the international community.

27 April 2018, 17:12