North and South Korea will sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War later this year, the two countries announced in a joint declaration Friday.
The document – formally called the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula – was revealed after a full day of meetings and a 30-minute private conversation in the past hour between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in.
“The two leaders solemnly declare… that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and a new era of peace has begun,” the declaration said.
The two leaders agreed to goal of “complete denuclearisation”.
At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula.
The declaration included promises to pursue military arms reduction, cease “hostile acts”, turn their fortified border into a “peace zone”, and seek multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States.
The statement did not provide any new specific measures how to achieve the objective.
North Korea has placed its nuclear weapons up for negotiations. It has previously used the term “denuclearisation” to say it can disarm only when the US withdraws its 28,500 troops in South Korea.
Kim Jong-un made history earlier today by crossing the heavily militarised border from North to South Korea ahead of historic talks.
The dictator said his heart was “throbbing” as he became the first North Korean leader to enter the truce village of Panmunjom in 65 years.
South Korea’s Moon Jae-in personally greeted Kim at the military demarcation line at 9.30am local time.
And the leaders kept up their friendly demeanor inside the Peace House pavilion, with Kim joking to Moon he would “stop interrupting his sleep” with constant missile tests.
The summit with the South Korean President will set the stage for Kim to meet with US President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what will be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries.
Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as North Korea’s rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States raised fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.
The two leaders smiled and shook hands after which Kim Jong-un gestured to Moon they cross over to North Korea briefly, which they did for a few steps, then returned to the South, holding hands.
The two were handed flowers by a South Korean boy and girl – residents of a village situated in the demilitarised zone.
Walking on a red carpet rolled out for the two heads of state, the pair were met by a South Korean honour guard in historical costumes and playing traditional music.
Kim wore glasses and his trademark black Mao suit, while the rest of the North Korean delegation appeared in military uniforms or Western attire.
He stopped to sign a guest book in the South’s Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.
“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in the book, dating and signing the entry.
Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.
Friday’s inter-Korean summit is the third ever after two former South Korean leaders, Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun in 2007, met with Kim Jong-un’s late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang.
The latest summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised Zone, a 160-mile (260km) long, 2.5-mile (4 km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.
With heavily armed soldiers and propaganda broadcasts blasted over loundspeakers from both sides, the DMZ has long been a symbol of hostilities on the divided peninsula.
South Korea switched off its propaganda broadcasts on Monday to set a positive tone ahead of the summit, and South Korean residents living near the border said the North Korean broadcasts had also appeared to stop on Tuesday.