Kim crosses border to meet South Korea's Moon

Casey Dawson
April 27, 2018

Earlier Friday, the North and South Korean leaders exchanged a warm handshake over the demarcation line that divides the two countries before the beginning of the summit. In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

The rapprochement began in January when Mr Kim suggested he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea. In fact, according to the South Korean news agency DailyNK, there is a customized bathroom built into Kim's convoy of vehicles at all times.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "From brink of war to hopes of peace: Kim Jong Un heads south for summit".

Despite skepticism about Kim's sincerity, this is the first time he has offered to negotiate over his nuclear weapons since taking office in late 2011.

South Korea hopes Kim will directly confirm his will for "complete" denuclearisation of the peninsula.

The two neighbours are expected to release a joint statement - possibly called the Panmunjom Declaration - that could address denuclearisation and peace, and an improvement in relations, South Korean officials said earlier.

If a formal peace treaty is signed, and progress made on these other issues, it will significantly impact on the upcoming summit between Kim Jong-Un and President Trump by drastically increasing pressure on the US President to prove his apparent mettle as the "world's greatest dealmaker".

Seoul has warned reaching an agreement aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons will be "difficult", because North Korea's nuclear and missile technology has advanced so much since the sides' leaders last met more than a decade ago.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shake hands.

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"I feel like I'm firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity", Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, which had been built so that exactly 2018 millimeters separated them, to begin their closed-door talks.

Its actions sent tensions soaring as Kim and Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.

Jonathan Cheng tweeted: 'The morning session is over, and Kim Jong Un, riding in the Mercedes limo, gets the human motorcade treatment, as his 12 bodyguards get in some nice midday cardio'.

After their second summit in 2007, the Koreas agreed to pursue peace and end their standoff, but they failed to forge a genuine detente because of the North's nuclear program.

Kim and Moon then saluted an honour guard and military band, and Moon introduced Kim to South Korean government officials.

And if "peace" is formally declared as part of a wider deal with the Americans, the North can make a new case for its long-cherished goal: to have the United States withdraw its large contingent of troops from the South. "Peace is as hard if not more hard than denuclearization".

Pyongyang announced last week a moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missiles, adding it would dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

The U.S., however, argues that further testing is needed to demonstrate operational ICBM capability.

Minutes before Kim entered Peace House, a North Korean security team conducted a sweep for explosives and listening devices, and sprayed apparent disinfectant in the air, on the chairs, and on the guest book.

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