Smiling and holding hands, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have met at the heavily fortified demilitarised zone between the countries in the first summit for the two Koreas in over a decade.
Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together on Friday marked a striking contrast to last year’s barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.
The dramatic meeting, aimed at ending their decades-long conflict, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump.
“We are at a starting line today, where a new history of peace, prosperity and inter-Korean relations is being written,” Kim said before the two Korean leaders and their top aides began talks.
Moon and Kim are expected to discuss denuclearisation and exchanges between the Koreas and also will plant a memorial tree at the border truce village of Panmunjom.
Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.
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But there is widespread scepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the hard-earned nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against U.S. invasion.
“Today, rather than create results we won’t be able to carry out like in the past, we should make good results by talking frankly about current issues, issues of interest,” Kim said.